The VCF is available to both responders (rescue, recovery, cleanup and construction workers or volunteers) and survivors (area residents, workers, students, and passersby). While no documents are required to register, those who want to file a claim must prove that they were present within the program’s geographic boundaries between September 11th, 2001 and May 30th, 2002.
Certain employers have agreed to provide records of the personnel assigned to Ground Zero directly to the VCF, most notably the FDNY. For all other claimants, however, here are the most common VCF-approved ways to prove you were below Canal Street on or after 9/11:
- Provide two affidavits from people who personally witnessed you in the NYC Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002. The affidavits must explain when they saw you there, why they were in the zone, why you were in the zone, and what you were doing there. (We can provide you with a simple affidavit form that’s easy to fill out and doesn’t require a notary.)
- Provide an official school transcript, card, or day care record with an accompanying cover letter from an employee of the school or facility certifying the accuracy of the information. The documents must confirm enrollment or attendance for a period between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002.
- Provide two of the following documents showing that you were present in the Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002:
- An affidavit from a parent (in the case of a minor) or non-family member verifying your presence in the exposure zone during the period in question. (Again, we can provide an easy-fill form.)
- For Residents: Documents such as rent or mortgage receipt, utility bill, tax forms, FEMA records, or other similar documents that clearly show the address and the name(s) of addressee(s). If the document is in someone else’s name (e.g. parent or spouse), it needs to be accompanied by a letter explaining the claimant’s relationship to the individual in the address line.
- For Downtown Workers: A sworn Employer Verification Form or employment records confirming your presence in the zone. This can be a letter from the employer confirming your work at the site, an official personnel roster and site credentials confirming a work location, a workers’ injury report (documenting injury at the site), or a pay stub showing dates of work and the location where work was performed.
- Any contemporaneous document that shows your location – such as orders, instructions, confirmation of tasks performed, medical records (documenting treatment as a result of injury that occurred at the site), etc.
It’s usually stated for simplicity’s sake that the VCF covers anybody “below Canal Street,” but it’s worth noting that on the east side the exposure zone extends beyond Canal Street along East Broadway to Clinton Street. It also includes “any area related to or along the routes of debris removal, such as barges and Fresh Kills landfill.” Anybody who was present on 9/11 or lived, worked, or attended school within this zone in the months that followed is eligible for compensation for their 9/11-linked physical conditions. A map of the zone is available here.
Additionally, the VCF gives applicants the chance to submit additional documents if their initial application is denied on the grounds that their proof of presence is not sufficient. Further, the appeal process allows claimants to request an in-person hearing to convey their story.