TEANECK — Congressman Josh Gottheimer on Monday stood with first-responders and victims of 9/11 to demand that full benefits of the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund be restored and extended.

"We cannot fail the cops, EMTs, firefighters, volunteers and survivors who served and protected us when we needed it most," Gottheimer said.

On Feb. 15, the Special Master of the fund announced that injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors would receive just half of the money that they were expecting for pending claims, and 70 percent less than expected would be paid out for future claims. The fund also currently is scheduled to end in December 2020.

Gottheimer, a Democrat serving the 5th District, is an original co-sponsor of the "Never Forget the Heroes Act," aimed at ensuring the Victim's Compensation Fund is fully able to pay out all valid claims, both existing and future.

"As of earlier this year, more than 47,000 claims had been filed with the Victim Compensation Fund, and more than 11,000 additional claims are expected by 2020, when the fund is sent to expire unless Congress acts," Gottheimer said.

More than 47,000 people who are in the federal World Trade Center Health Program are suffering from at least one certified 9/11 condition caused by toxins at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and the Shanksville crash site, aaccording to the CDC. A number of those enrolled have multiple conditions.

More than 11,000 survivors and first-responders enrolled in the Health Program already have been certified with at least one 9/11 related cancer, according to the CDC. Thousands more who have been diagnosed with cancer are only now joining the health program, so the numbers are expected to increase.

Gottheimer said he's hopeful that the bi-partisan legislation would continue to gain momentum, with action being taken over the "next couple of months."

A Facebook live-stream of Gottheimer's Monday event with first responders is below:

 

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