Compensation for Responders and Survivors with 9/11 Illnesses
Congress created the first September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in 2001, soon after the devastating World Trade Center attacks. That fund offered financial compensation to people injured at a 9/11 crash site during or immediately after the disaster. Additionally, spouses, parents and children of people killed in the attack, or who died as a result during the subsequent 72 hours, could apply to the Fund for compensation for their loved ones’ suffering and death.
The original Victim Compensation Fund closed in June 2004 after awarding approximately 7 billion dollars to victims of the attack and their families. However, when it became apparent that toxicity at Ground Zero, in the plume and the debris pile, had caused acute and latent health effects that worsened over time, Congress created a new VCF to assist responders and survivors with WTC-related illnesses.
The New 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
After the original Fund closed in 2004, a need remained for additional funds to cover people who did not seek medical treatment for their injuries within 72 hours of the attack per the requirement of the original VCF fund.
Some suffered illnesses or injuries that began later, such as more than 69 cancers, and who lived and worked near, but not on the WTC site. With fierce lobbying by our law firm, Barasch & McGarry, along with many survivors and advocates in the 9/11 community, Congress passed the “James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act of 2010”, named for our client NYPD Detective James Zadorga, which took steps to address these gaps in the initial fund.
The “Zadroga Act”, as it’s abbreviated, reopened the Victim Compensation Fund to begin administering benefits on July 1, 2011 to cover people who lived, worked, attended school, or volunteered in the exposure zone between 9/11 and May 30, 2002. This allowed people who arrived later — many volunteers, utility repairmen, people who transported or handled WTC debris, and those going back to work at offices near the WTC site — to link their cancers and illnesses to the attacks. The Zadroga Act also expanded the exposure zone covering more of Lower Manhattan and explicitly including areas through which debris from the WTC site traveled on its way to the Fresh Kills landfill and at the landfill itself.
2019 Permanent Authorization and Full Funding
In 2019, as the Fund was set to expire in December 2020, attorneys and staff from our firm, along with John Feal of the FealGood Foundation and 9/11 hero and advocate Jon Stewart, made dozens of trips down to Washington, D.C. to lobby for the permanent extension and full funding of the Victim Compensation Fund. Our downtown Manhattan office was and still remains, just a few blocks from the World Trade Center buildings, so for us, it was personal.
In July 2019, President Trump signed the “The Never Forget The Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund”, also called the “VCF Permanent Authorization Act.” This act extended the VCF’s claim filing deadline from December 18, 2020 to October 1, 2090, effectively funding the future claims of all victims of WTC related cancers, illnesses, and deaths. The Fund will now outlive all 9/11 victims. Although the bill created permanent authorization and funds for those claims, important and stringent rules still apply in order for victims to obtain a settlement for their health conditions. We can help you determine if you qualify for any support from the victim compensation fund.
How to Obtain a Victim Compensation Fund Settlement
While it is best to have the help of our lawyers, applying for compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is not filing a lawsuit. Instead, claimants register and file an application with the VCF. As part of the process of establishing your WTC compensation eligibility, you must show:
Presence in the 9/11 exposure zone between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002
Physical illness or injury resulting from your presence in the 9/11 exposure zone and falling into one of the categories covered by the 2010 Zadroga Act
Hiring an Attorney for Eligibility and Maximizing Compensation
The Victim Compensation Fund does not require you to have an attorney represent you in the application process. However, an experienced 9/11 lawyer will ensure that you take the proper steps to prove your eligibility so that you may receive full and fair compensation.
Unlike a standard personal injury case in which attorney fees may claim as much as 40 percent of a settlement or judgment, the Victim Compensation Fund caps attorney fees at 10 percent, ensuring that you get the maximum benefit of the fund.
$3,700,651for a disabled NYC police officer due to leukemia
$3,254,242for wrongful death of a firefighter due to 9/11-related asthma/RADS
$2,811,150for a disabled stock broker due to multiple myeloma
$1,934,316for a disabled teacher due to esophageal cancer
$1,422,694for wrongful death of a downtown office worker due to pulmonary fibrosis
$1,251,411for wrongful death of a paralegal working in a downtown law firm due to breast cancer
$1,345,427for a NYC Police Officer with breast cancer
$1,188,741for a disabled EMT with colon cancer
$1,011,957for the wrongful death of a sound engineer due to bladder cancer
Deadline Extended to Register for 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
There is still time to apply for significant compensation if you have been diagnosed with any of the 69 types of cancers or respiratory illnesses 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 2 years from the date that a cancer or illness has been certified by the WTC Health Program—or any other governmental agency. The 2-year period to register doesn’t start on the day of a cancer diagnosis. Rather, the deadline starts 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 or illnesses, the 2-year period for their family to register starts on the day of the death of the WTC victim.
I recently received my VCF payment check. I know a lot of people in your office made this possible with their hard work. Please let them know how much they have helped my family. My thoughts will always be with the hard working people of your firm who made this possible.
T.N 9/11 Survivor
What About Families Who Missed Their Claim Window?
Because many victims and widows were unaware of these deadlines, they either missed their time to file a claim or they never even filed a claim. The VCF has now opened a window for those victims and their families to bring claims. Here is what you should know:
If you were found ineligible by the VCF because you filed your claim after the filing deadline, you now have the right to pursue your claim.
If you have an appeal pending because you were denied compensation based upon timeliness, that appeal is no longer necessary, and will be canceled. Your claim will be reconsidered and likely be found eligible if you meet other requirements such as being able to prove that you, or a family member, were in the exposure zone.
If you did not file a VCF claim because your claim would have been untimely, you may now bring that claim.
The window for these previously time-barred claims is approaching. It applies to sick and injured victims, as well as to families who have lost loved ones. Contact us right away so we can help you get your claim filed properly.
We can help you get registered for free health care through the WTCHP and determine your eligibility for compensation from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Call 212-385-8000 or contact us online today.