Finally! Earlier today, Congress officially voted to extend the Zadroga Health and Compensation Act. It wasn’t until 11 p.m. on Tuesday that New York lawmakers and advocates knew for sure that the $1.1 trillion must-pass omnibus spending bill for 2016 actually included a $8.1-billion extension of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. But, Congress still had to vote for it. That bi-partisan vote was held this morning and President Obama is now expected to sign it into law.
The new law will extend the Zadroga Act’s World Trade Center Health program for 75 years, until 2090, at a cost of $3.5 billion, and renew the act’s Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) for five years and fully fund it at $4.6 billion. While regulations for the VCF extension still need to be written by the Dept. of Justice, the bill should speed the time that it will take for victims to actually receive their compensation. The good news is that instead of being paid just 40% of awards and having to wait until October, 2017, VCF claimants will potentially receive 100% of their awards within months of getting their award letters. Moreover, for the next five years, anyone diagnosed with one of the 67 cancers linked to the WTC toxic dust will be able to make a claim — as long as the claim is made within two years of the date of diagnosis.
It’s a wonderful Christmas present for both sick and healthy first responders, local residents, and their families. As the attorneys for James Zadroga’s family, we are delighted for the entire 9/11 community in general, and for our thousands of clients in particular. We will share the new regulations with you, and explain how they affect your particular case, as soon as the VCF Special Master publishes them.
The attorneys and staff at Barasch & McGarry are proud and honored to represent you. We wish you a peaceful holiday season and a happy New Year.