Tragically, many children were victims of the World Trade Center collapse, Pentagon attack and plane crash at Shanksville. Some lost parents either during the attacks or in later years as a result of 9/11-related diseases. Others who lived or attended school in lower Manhattan sustained physical injuries or illnesses. In fact, children exposed to the dust cloud may have recently been diagnosed with childhood cancers, a devastating prospect.
Parents and guardians should take action to protect their children’s rights to Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) awards under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.
Registering your child for the VCF is similar to registering an adult, except that you are responsible for properly filing the appropriate forms and evidence on behalf of your minor child. Your child’s doctor can certify that her or his medical condition is 9/11-related. These documents may help prove your child was present during the 9/11 attacks:
- Lease or mortgage on your apartment near Ground Zero
- Enrollment in school or daycare located in the designated area of lower Manhattan
- Report card, attendance sheet or other records from child’s school or daycare
- Visitation agreement showing you had custody of your child on September 11
If the child lost a parent, you should prepare certain documents, including the following:
- The parent’s last will and testament that lists the child as heir
- The child’s birth certificate to prove the relationship, especially if there is no will
- The parent’s tax return that names the child as a dependent in lieu of the birth certificate
The VCF may issue payments to one of these responsible people on behalf of a minor child:
- Personal representative — The entire amount is paid directly to the personal representative, who remains under court supervision to safeguard the child’s portion of the money.
- Minor child directly — The court appoints a guardian — who may be the biological or adoptive parent or another person — to accept the payment on the child’s behalf.
- Representative payee — As the natural or adoptive parent, you may ask to be designated representative payee, which allows you to accept the payment directly to be used for your child’s current needs or saved for your child’s future interests.
Barasch & McGarry can help you take steps to protect your child’s best interests throughout the VCF claim process.