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You may be eligible for 9/11 benefits

Union members have until Oct. 3 to file for financial compensation for economic losses they suffered from working or living around the World Trade Center site after 9/11. However, those suffering from illnesses related to 9/11 have lots of time to seek free health benefits.

If you were exposed to toxins from the attacks, you should apply for health care under the World Trade Center Health Program. Screening may be available to first responders or rescue, recovery or cleanup volunteers — free of charge — even if you show no signs of illness. You could then be eligible for treatment and medicine at no cost.

If you lived, worked or attended school in lower Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn, you also can receive free screening and treatment, but only if you are experiencing symptoms.

In the 12 years since the attacks, more than 1,100 people who worked or lived near the World Trade Center on 9/11 have been diagnosed with cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many others suffer from respiratory disease, digestive ailments and other illness, including mental health conditions.

The World Trade Center Health Program was created in 2010 when the U.S. Congress, with support from the New York State AFL-CIO and other labor groups, passed the Zadroga Act. It is named for Detective James Zadroga, who died of a respiratory disease after participating in rescue and recovery operations at ground zero.

People can apply for health benefits or get information at http://nycosh.org/wtc or by calling 1-855-4WTC-AID. For financial benefits, people must apply at www.vcf.gov by Oct. 3.

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