Peripheral neuropathy is a serious condition that affects many emergency medical workers and other first responders who provided services on September 11, 2001, or after the 9/11 attacks. Yet despite the fact that researchers continue to conduct studies that show peripheral neuropathy is a known condition linked to certain types of exposure on 9/11, it is still not a covered condition under the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The following includes several pieces of information you should know about peripheral neuropathy and the possibilities for compensation through the VCF.
What is Neuropathy?
According to the Mayo Clinic, peripheral neuropathy is a condition that results from “damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord,” which are the peripheral nerves. When a person suffers from peripheral neuropathy, she or he often will experience weakness, numbness, and/or pain, which typically occurs in the person’s hands or feet. However, symptoms can also appear in other parts of the body. People who suffer from peripheral neuropathy say that the pain symptoms they experience feel like a “stabbing, burning, or tingling” sensation.
Most frequently, peripheral neuropathy is caused by “traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems, inherited causes, and exposure to toxins.” Typically, patients with peripheral neuropathy need pain medications to reduce the pain they experience from the condition.
How Many First Responders Suffer from Peripheral Neuropathy?
A recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health determined that a strikingly high percentage of the first responders at the World Trade Center suffer from peripheral neuropathy. In their study, the researchers gathered data from a total of 9,239 firefighters and emergency medical service workers who were exposed to toxins at the WTC that could lead to peripheral neuropathy.
They found that approximately 25 percent of the workers who are currently aged 40 and older have symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Accordingly, they concluded, based on this data and other related information, that peripheral neuropathy is “associated with WTC-exposure intensity.”
Are First Responders with Peripheral Neuropathy Eligible for a Payout from the 9/11 VCF?
Currently, peripheral neuropathy is not one of the covered conditions under the VCF. Although other studies, too, have determined that exposure to certain dust and toxins at the WTC ultimately was linked to emergency responders developing peripheral neuropathy, it is not a condition that has been added to the list. While a malignant neoplasm of the peripheral nerves is a covered condition, peripheral neuropathy is not yet listed.
Are There Alternatives to VCF Compensation for Neuropathy?
As we mentioned above, other conditions that may also be related to exposure to toxins at the WTC could be eligible for compensation through the VCF. If you are unsure about whether your condition enables you to apply for compensation through the VCF, you should speak with an experienced 9/11 VCF attorney. In the meantime, first responders who suffer from peripheral neuropathy may have options beyond the VCF for compensation, such as certain disability benefits depending upon the severity of the condition.
Discuss Your Case with a New York 9/11 VCF Lawyer
We know how frustrating it can be to learn that a specific condition is not covered under the VCF even if it arose out of exposure to dust and other chemicals at the site of the attacks. Many victims who suffer from peripheral neuropathy also have other conditions that resulted from their work on 9/11 and may be eligible to obtain VCF compensation for another related illness or injury.