Former New York City students, staff eligible for 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
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Officials are encouraging more than 20,000 current and former students and educators at New York City public schools to apply for health care through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund due to their proximity to the toxic air and debris following the 2001 terror attacks, saying they are eligible for the benefits.

Officials from the New York City Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) are joining to urge former students and others to apply for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and the federal World Trade Center Health Program, the New York City Department of Education and a UFT spokesperson confirmed to The Hill. 

Letters from the city's Department of Education will be mailed this week to the last known addresses of 19,000 former students who were enrolled in a public school in New York near the World Trade Center on or after Sept. 11, 2001, the department confirmed to CNN.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE signed legislation into law in July authorizing the extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2090.

The notices are intended to inform former students, teachers and staff that health care benefits are available to them through the fund.

“We must never forget what happened 18 years ago, and members of our community are still feeling the effects today," New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said in a statement to The Hill.

"I am grateful to our federal elected officials, our partners at the UFT, and all those who’ve advocated so passionately to ensure that our survivors get the health care benefits they deserve," he added. 

The area covered will be south of Houston Street in New York City, including parts of Manhattan and a small section of Brooklyn, according to the UFT.

The UFT has also reached out to its approximate 3,000 members who worked in the included schools.

"Students, teachers, community members need to know their rights. If they are sick or become sick, they are entitled to health support and possible compensation. Those benefits are not just for first responders," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement to The Hill.

Michael Barasch, an attorney at the Barasch & McGarry law firm that represents 9/11 victims, called the move “long overdue."

"Everybody was exposed to the same toxic dust," Barasch told CNN. "It didn't matter whether you were a responder or a student or a teacher or a downtown resident or office worker."

He called the students “forgotten victims,” saying that they are "coming down with the same cancers as the firefighters and cops and they don't realize they are entitled to the same health care as the firefighters and officers.”

In addition to the letters, the Department of Education is also launching a social media campaign and holding an event on Oct. 28 with the UFT to provide more information about the available benefits.