Frequently Asked Questions
What is the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)?
The VCF was created as a part of legislation passed by Congress and the President to provide economic and non-economic loss compensation to individuals or relatives of deceased individuals who were killed or developed health conditions as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Are there any benefits to retaining an attorney for my VCF claim rather than pursuing it on my own?
While the VCF processes all claims equally, by retaining an attorney you gain access to a team of highly experienced attorneys and paralegals who have made thousands of claims with the VCF on behalf of our clients. We are proud to be able to advocate for our clients who we know have suffered and continue to suffer debilitating illness which as a result makes filing a claim on their own exceedingly difficult.
How do I know if can file a claim?
To be eligible for the VCF, claimants:
- Must have been present within the NYC downtown exposure zone, Freshkills Landfill or cleanup sites, Shanksville PA site, or the Pentagon site between 9/11/2001-5/30/2002. Claimants must provide two affidavits from coworkers or other volunteers who witnessed them at the site during the exposure time. Please see the VCF NYC exposure map to see if you are eligible: https://www.vcf.gov/nycExposureMap.html.
- Must have developed a WTC related physical condition that has been certified by the WTC Health Program. Please provide a copy of your certification letter to our office so we can submit it to your claim.
I was present in the exposure zone but I have no one to write affidavits for me. What do I do?
In specific circumstances, there are alternative documents that can be used for proof of presence. Call our office at 212-385-8003 to discuss your options.
What is the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program? What is the process of getting certified?
The WTC Health Program provides medical monitoring and treatment for 9/11 related conditions. To get certified, you must first enroll in the program and provide one proof of presence affidavit or other presence document as well as pathology reports or medical records related to your 9/11 condition. To find out if your condition is 9/11 related please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/conditions.html. Once accepted into the program, you must make an appointment for an evaluation to get certified. All certified physical conditions are eligible for compensation through the VCF and all certified conditions receive free healthcare through the WTC Health Program. Please call (888)-982-4748 or visit https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/index.html to apply. If you prefer, you can call our office 212-385-8000 and we can help you through each step of the enrollment process.
Does filing a claim with the VCF affect my immigration status?
No. Filing a claim with the VCF is independent of your immigration status and will not affect it. If you have any questions or concerns please call our office at: 212-385-8000.
How do I know if my award is fair?
Our attorneys complete extensive reviews of each award breakdown and are able to determine if your award is fair. If you have any questions please call our office at 212-385-8000.
How do I know if I fall within the required deadlines associated with the VCF?
Call our office to discuss if you are eligible within the deadlines set out by the VCF.
If I was part of a previous 9/11 lawsuit am I still eligible to file for the VCF?
Under certain circumstances, you may be eligible. Please call our office at 212-385-8000 to speak to an attorney about your options.
If I have an old certification letter that is past the two year deadline, am I still eligible for a VCF claim?
If you are certified with a new WTC condition now or in the future you may still be eligible to make a claim with the VCF. Call our office to discuss your options at: 212-385-8000.
How do I find out what illnesses are covered by the WTC Health Program?
The WTC Health program has a list of covered conditions on their website: https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/conditions.html. The WTC Health Program has added new conditions in the past, so if you believe your condition may be WTC-related we urge you to make an appointment with the WTC Health Program.
How do I know which conditions are eligible for compensation?
The VCF considers WTC Health Program certified physical conditions eligible for compensation. While the WTC Health Program certifies mental health conditions, the VCF does not consider them eligible for compensation.
If I have an illness that is not covered by the WTC Health Program, should I enroll in the program anyway?
The WTC Health Program provides monitoring for those who do not yet have a WTC related condition, but who were exposed to the toxic dust in the aftermath of 9/11. We urge you to enroll even if you do not yet have a WTC related condition as the WTC Health Program provides free checkups for first responders and survivors. Additionally, The WTC Health Program has added new conditions in the past, so if you believe your condition may be WTC-related we urge you to enroll.
If I retain your firm for the lawsuit resulting from the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), can I also make a VCF claim?
Yes, you may pursue a JASTA claim while simultaneously filing a claim with the VCF.
I already submitted my claim for one WTC condition but shortly after, I was diagnosed with another. How do I add a new condition to my claim?
Our offices can amend your claim to include any newly certified WTC conditions until the close of the VCF on 12/18/2020. Send a copy of your new certification letter listing your new condition to your Claim Administrator at our office and we can amend your claim for you.
Are the WTC Health Program and the VCF the same entity?
The WTC Health Program and the VCF are separate organizations. The WTC Health Program provides medical monitoring and treatment to 9/11 survivors and first responders while the VCF provides economic and non-economic loss compensation for those with a physical WTC Health Program certified condition.
Does enrolling in the WTC Health Program mean I have a claim with the VCF?
Enrolling in the WTC Health Program does not automatically register you with the VCF. While the VCF requires a WTC Health Program certification letter to be eligible for a claim, making a claim with the VCF is a completely separate process from enrolling in the WTC Health Program
Can I still see my private physician after I am enrolled in the WTC Health Program?
Yes. While the WTC Health Program requires an evaluation in order to get certified for your WTC conditions, you are free to continue to see your own private physicians even though you are also entitled to free medical care through the WTC Health Program.
Does the WTC Health Program cover my out of pocket medical expenses as a result of my WTC condition?
The WTC Health Program covers all future medical costs for conditions that they certify. The VCF will cover past medical expenses for WTC certified conditions in excess of $2,000. Call our office at 21-385-8000 to discuss which documents are needed for an out of pocket medical expense claim with the VCF.
If I have been waiting to get an appointment with the WTC Health Program for months, will this harm my VCF claim?
No, after you are registered with the VCF you have until December 18, 2020 to submit your claim as well as any supporting documents. The VCF cannot process your claim without a certification letter, however your right to file a claim in the future is preserved once you register with the VCF.
I am retiring and moving out of New York. Can I still receive WTC Health Program treatment and monitoring without coming back to NY?
Yes, the WTC Health Program has a national provider network of clinics where survivors and first responders can received treatment and monitoring. Please call 888-982-4749 to find out which clinic is closest to you.
It is difficult for me to get around. Do I have to come into the office to file a claim? What about if I cannot travel to a WTC Health Program clinic?
No, you do not need to come in to the office to file a claim. You can call our office at 212-385-8000 to speak to an attorney to see if you are eligible for a claim. Additionally, if you are unable to travel to a WTC Health Program clinic for an evaluation due to illness or another impediment, we can submit a Private Physician Packet to the VCF. Our office can discuss with you which documents are needed for a PP Packet, and the VCF website outlines the eligibility criteria for a PP packet here: https://www.vcf.gov/privatephysicianprocess-forms.html.
If I had cancer before 9/11 and I get diagnosed with cancer again after 9/11, can I still receive an award and receive coverage through the WTC Health Program?
Yes, if your new cancer falls within the latency periods outlined on the WTC Health Program website here: https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/pdfs/WTCHP-Minimum-Cancer-Latency-PP-01062015.pdf, the WTC Health Program can certify your new cancer and you may be eligible for VCF compensation. If you are unsure if you fall within the latency period for WTC cancers, please call our office at 212-385-8000.
I have multiple certified conditions. Does each condition increase my award amount?
As the VCF states on their FAQ page, the VCF does not evaluate the amount of an award based solely on the number of conditions a claimant may have, but rather on a variety of factors such as severity, type of condition, and the impact it has on your life. By law, the VCF can only issue a maximum of $90,000 for non-cancerous conditions and $250,000 for cancerous conditions. For more information, please visit the VCF’s FAQ page: https://www.vcf.gov/faq.html.
Can I use pictures of myself in the exposure zone to prove I was there?
No, the VCF will not accept photographs as proof of presence documents. The VCF requires two affidavits from individuals who witnessed you in the exposure zone. If two affidavits cannot be acquired, one affidavit and a combination of other proof of presence documents such as: an employer letter or work log, memo book, W2 form, lease agreement, or other document proving your location in the exposure zone can qualify as a proof of presence document. If you were an active duty FDNY or NYPD officer, a Notice of Participation from the NYPD or FDNY records office can suffice as both proof of presence documents.
If I pass away while my claim is under review, what happens to my award?
If you pass away while your claim is under review, you may still eligible for a wrongful death award. Please have your personal representative call our office at 212-385-8000 to discuss your claim moving forward.
If I don’t receive an award for my illnesses, do I owe the law firm any fees for their efforts?
No, our 10% fee only applies if you receive an award from the VCF.
How long is the VCF taking to review new claims?
As of December 2017, VCF is still assessing claims that were originally submitted in 2015. The VCF has been taking approximately two years to fully process each claim. For more information on the VCF’s progress please visit their website: https://www.vcf.gov/index.html.
I received my award determination letter. How long until I can expect to receive my check?
After you receive your award determination letter from the VCF, it takes approximately 6-8 weeks for your check to be ready. Our firm will contact you when your check is ready to be released.
I recently received a denial letter from the VCF for additional compensation for my conditions. Is there anything I can do moving forward?
If the VCF denies an amendment there is no appeal process. However, even though you may have been denied for an amendment you still retain the right to amend your claim in the future based on any new conditions or a future disability determination.
If I am disabled as a result of my WTC conditions but I do not have a disability determination, can the VCF issue me a disability determination?
Claimants are able to request a VCF disability evaluation he or she does not have a previous disability determination. Please call our office at 212-385-8000 to discuss what is needed to request a disability evaluation from the VCF.