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WTC Health Program vs. VCF: Do I Qualify for One or Both?

The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) are often mentioned in the same breath. This makes sense since both were established by the Zadroga Act and run by the federal government. Misunderstandings about the differences often cause confusion, however, since many people don’t realize it is possible to qualify for one and not the other. Here are the main things you need to know to find out if you are eligible for one or both of these programs:

  • Geographical Boundaries: The boundaries that these programs serve are overlapping but not entirely the same. The main thing to know is that the VCF has more restrictive boundaries than the WTCHP. In order to get no cost health treatment, survivor community members and some responders must prove they lived, worked, or went to school below Houston Street or in a small swatch of Western Brooklyn that is within 1.5 miles of the WTC site. VCF claimants, meanwhile, must show that they were below Canal Street during the qualifying period (or at the Fresh Kills landfill, on the debris removal barges or at any of the morgues). People who were in Western Brooklyn or between Houston Street and Canal Street do qualify for the health treatment through the WTCHP, but do not qualify compensation from the VCF. Click here to see a map of the boundaries: www.cdc.gov/wtc/define/html.
  • Responders vs. Survivors: These terms get thrown around a lot, but only the WTCHP makes a distinction between the “responder” and “survivor” communities, which are served by different Centers of Excellence and using slightly different criteria. The VCF treats any eligible claimant who meets their criteria the same way. That means that sick survivors and responders qualify for the same levels of compensation and go through the same claims process with the VCF. They are, however, served by different arms of the WTCHP and must meet different criteria in order to qualify for monitoring. Additionally, responders who were at the SI Fresh Kills landfill or at the morgues are also eligible.
  • Proof of Presence: The WTCHP and VCF are operated by different federal agencies and have slightly different proof of presence in the exposure zone requirements. The VCF is generally stricter. Whereas for the health program a school transcript, utility bill, or paystub is often enough to prove presence, most people applying to the VCF find that the surest thing to do is provide two Witness Affidavits. We encourage people to get their VCF affidavits filled out now, even if they aren’t yet sick. With each passing year it can get harder to find witnesses who saw you in the exposure zone nearly 20 years ago, so people can and should protect themselves by having affidavits on hand in case they need them in the future. The forms, which do not require a notary, are available on our site at Proof of Presence Affidavit.
  • Time of Exposure: The health program and the VCF require proof that both responders and survivors were exposed on 9/11, or more than 4 hours between 9/11 and 9/14; or more than 24 hours during September, 2001; or more than 80 hours during part of the 8 months that followed.

If you have questions about these, we’re here to help! Give our office a call for a free consultation.

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  • "Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson handled everything professionally and with patience. They always had time to answer all my questions and did what they promised. Thanks esp to Brian Calamaris Lee London, and Mariya Atanasova. Thank you." - William Collins, FDNY

  • "If I could give them six stars I would...don't even bother talking to anyone else concerning 9/11. The whole team worked night and day to deliver an outstanding settlement. They are honest, hard working and extremely professional. Just make the one phone call and let them do the rest." - Les Margulis, resident in the exposure zone

  • "I had a very good experience with Michael and Mariya. They made the process stress free. I would recommend this firm to anyone seeking assistance with 9/11 related illnesses." - JE Kirwan, worked in the exposure zone

  • "The people at this firm were just great. They were concern with making sure I was taken care of in every way possible. When I was given an award Mr. Barasch didn't think it was a fair amount and appealed the decision which got me a larger award. I am very satisfied with everything they did for me in the past and are willing to do for me and my family in the future." - Bob Wiecezak, FDNY-Retired

  • "Excellent law firm. Lee London and his staff were very responsive and always followed up with phone calls or emails. This firm is a strong example of what caring and personable lawyers are all about." - Letitia Egan, wife of client, volunteer in the exposure zone

  • Deadline Extended to Register for Compensation


    There is still time to apply for significant compensation if you have been diagnosed with any of the 68 cancers that doctors at the WTC Health Program (WTCHP) have linked to the WTC toxic dust. The deadline to apply to the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is two years from the date that a cancer has been certified by the WTC Health Program — or any other governmental agency. The two-year period to register doesn’t start on the day of a cancer diagnosis. Rather, it starts only when a cancer survivor is made aware their cancer was linked to exposure to the WTC toxins.

    For those who died from their WTC-linked cancers, the two-year period for their family to register starts on the day of the death of the WTC victim.

    Register For Compensation

Please help spread the word about the strict two-year deadline to register a claim

Many people have tried to complete the VCF application on their own, only to learn that it requires answers to hundreds of questions and many documents to download. It would be our pleasure to help you complete the process in order to ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. Please call us for a free consultation.

Let a knowledgeable attorney help you figure it out

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. You undoubtedly have questions about your disease and how you will pay for treatment. Lawyers at Barasch & McGarry ensure you understand the complex requirements and help devise the best strategies for obtaining compensation and appropriate medical care under the Zadroga Act. Contact our law firm online or call 888-351-9421. The initial consultation is free, so it costs you nothing to find out whether a lawyer can help.
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