Help Sought for Ground Zero Volunteers Who Lack Proof of Service

Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, is calling on the Bloomberg administration to find a formal way of helping people who volunteered at ground zero after the terrorist attacks prove that they were there and are eligible for federal compensation.

Ms. Quinn said that because of the difficulty of proving presence at ground zero more than a decade later for volunteers who had gone there on their own, she had asked Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services, to consider using the city’s resources to find a way to help.

“We in city government are in a unique position to help these volunteers identify potential witnesses,” she said in a letter Wednesday to Ms. Gibbs.

The letter was sent in response to an article in The New York Times on Wednesday, describing the cases of three people who said they had volunteered at ground zero after the attacks, one for just a day, but were having trouble coming up with the proof required to qualify for a $2.8 billion federal fund to compensate people sickened or injured by the attacks.

“I think anything they could do that would be helpful would be fine, but the problem is, I’m not sure what they can do,” Sheila Birnbaum, the special master for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, said. The fund has already reached out to the city health department, which maintains a registry of people who were exposed to the disaster, as well as other public and private entities, for help in proving that people were there.

Another fund official said the staff would be careful, since disasters often bring forth fraudulent claims. A spokeswoman for Ms. Gibbs said her office had received the letter but had not yet had a chance to review it.

As documentation, the fund requires volunteers to have orders, instructions or confirmation of tasks they performed, or medical records created during the time they were in what is being called the exposure zone, including the area south of Canal Street, and areas where debris was being taken.

Failing that, it will be enough to submit two sworn statements — meaning the writer swears to its truth, under penalty of perjury — from witnesses describing when the volunteers were there and what they were doing.

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