So many people in the 9/11 community are getting sick and dying that the VCF is running out of money. When Congress passed the 9/11 Zadroga Act into law in 2011, it created the World Trade Center Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). But, cancers had not yet been linked to the WTC toxins by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). That link was made in 2013 and 2014.
When Congress reauthorized the Zadroga Act in 2015, it extended the Health Program for 75 years but the VCF for just 5 years. Billions of dollars were added to the VCF, but neither the CDC nor Congress anticipated the explosion in WTC linked illnesses and deaths, nor the subsequent claims submitted for compensation. As a result, while $5 Billion has been awarded to more than 25,000 people, actuaries at the VCF have concluded that the VCF’s Special Master must cut awards by 50-70%.
- For any claim or amendment submitted on or before February 1, 2019, the calculated economic and non-economic loss amounts, before subtraction of offsets, will be reduced by 50%.
- For claims or amendments submitted on or after February 2, 2019, the calculated economic and non-economic loss amounts, before subtraction of offsets, will be reduced by 70%.
- Those who receive an award letter dated prior to February 25th 2019, will receive the full amount of their award.
The statute mandates that awards be cut in order to ensure that there are funds available for all claimants who file prior to the December, 2020 deadline.
To read the Special Master’s full announcement, visit the VCF website www.vcf.gov.
Working to fix this injustice
On February 25, 2019 Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado will be introducing a bill to extend the Zadroga Act and ensure that all claimants receive full justice for their illnesses. Barasch & McGarry is sending a group of first responders, downtown residents, office workers, students and teachers to attend the press conference in Washington, D.C. to meet with legislators.
While we wait for Congress to pass this critical legislation, the VCF will continue to award compensation for both non-economic loss (pain and suffering) and, where appropriate, economic loss.
To date, non-economic loss determinations have ranged from $0 to $340,000, depending on the severity of the illness, whether the illness is permanent, how it has affected a claimant’s quality of life, and whether the claimant has already been awarded compensation for the same illness in a prior WTC claim or lawsuit.
Economic loss awards are based on a claimant’s age, work history and prior income. Where a claimant has received a disability pension, Social Security disability award, or WTC litigation settlement, the VCF award will be commensurately reduced. The range of awards is evidence that the VCF is making awards on a case by case basis.
Our law firm has recovered more than $2 Billion for over 10,000 of our clients.
Remember that until Congress passes the pending legislation, future awards will be cut by 50-70% less than what they would have been prior to the recently announced reductions.
It will be up to you and the rest of the 9/11 community to make sure that your representatives in Washington vote in favor of the extension. Please visit the Citizens for the Extension of the Zadroga Act website to find out if your Member of Congress is planning to support injured 9/11 Responders and Survivors, and is planning to be a co-sponsor the legislation to fully fund and extend the VCF. If they are, thank them for supporting 9/11 responders and survivors. If not, tell them that you are one of their constituents and you need them to sign on.
Injured 9/11 responders, survivors and their families do not need speeches, they need action. “Remembering 9/11” should be more than a bumper sticker.