New York, NY -- More than 174 New Jersey families affected by the World Trade Center attack have been helped by the State of New Jersey's "Family Assistance Center" at Liberty State Park. Counselors from numerous social, financial and functional agencies guide residents through claims procedures and provide emotional support, said Lt. Ed O'Neil, state coordinating officer - New Jersey Office Emergency Management.
"The individual assistance process for New Jersey citizens starts here -- at the Family Assistance Center (FAC)," O'Neil said. "One toll-free phone call - 1-866- NJ CRISIS (1-866- 652-7474) - connects them to essential social services." To reach the FAC by car, take Exit 14-C off the New Jersey Turnpike and follow the WTC Family Assistance Center signs.
Family Assistance Center services include:
- Banking and Insurance
- Division of Motor Vehicles
- Crime Victims Compensation
- Social Security
- Department of Health
- Department of Labor
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- The American Red Cross
- Medical/ Mental Health Assistance
- Victims Assistance
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Victim-Witness Advocacy
Because the terrorist attacks occurred in New York, victims or family members are being compensated initially through the New York Crime Victims Board (NYCVB). Representatives from the New Jersey Violent Crimes Compensation Board at the FAC help claimants complete the application on-site, explain their benefits eligibility, and forward the paperwork to the proper New York office. Under the State of New York "Victims of Crime Act," medical bills, mental health counseling, funeral expenses, lost earnings or support due to injury or loss of life are covered.
"While the New York Crime Victims Board is the primary aid provider to state victims, the New Jersey Violent Crimes Compensation Board (NJVCCB) is prepared to continue the support process," said Lillian Borrone, state coordinator of the Office of Recovery and Victim Assistance. "For example, if a claimant exhausts the NYCVB unemployment assistance, the NJVCCB would provide additional benefits."
The FAC staff also helps family members fill out the appropriate documents for an expedited death certificate. Lawyers from the U.S. Attorney General's Office and New Jersey Bar Association volunteers provide guidance. This is a necessary part of the victim's compensation process, and like information is used by several agencies.
"Affected individuals should avail themselves of our service," said Andrew Walko, deputy attorney general-State of New Jersey. "Our volunteers understand the legal background, we help fill out the forms, and we get the information filed with the proper New York authorities. We also track these applications to New York, and we know when forms change."
A death certificate application must be made by the victim's next of kin, said Walko. Documents to establish kinship or employment verification that links the missing family member to the World Trade Center attacks may include: birth certificate, marriage certificate, Social Security card, driver's license, W-2 payroll tax form, payroll check stubs, passport, a letter from the employer, and related evidence.