9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

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Almost two decades after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the death toll continues to rise. The number of cancer victims who have perished since 9/11 is thought to be greater than the number of casualties on 9/11. If you, or a loved one, have suffered a condition related to your presence at 9/11, contact a VCF lawyer at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP today.

Compensation Available for 9/11 Victims

Recognizing the need to compensate victims and their families, the U.S. Congress established the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to provide financial compensation for those who suffered from aerodigestive disorders and cancers caused by the inhalation of toxic debris.

Other conditions covered by the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund include:

  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Obstructive airway diseases
  • Upper airway inflammatory disorders
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disorder
  • Sleep apnea
  • Musculoskeletal disorders

The list above is far from exhaustive. Here is the complete list of WTCHP-certified (and therefore eligible for VCF) health conditions and injuries. To qualify, victims must have been present in the disaster area for a sufficient period of time depending on their location and dates of presence. The New York City Exposure Zone includes all of Lower Manhattan, south of Canal Street from September 11th, 2001 through May of 2002. 

All claims registered with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund by July 29, 2021 are considered timely, regardless of the date of diagnosis. Those who do not register by July 29, 2021 may still register, so long as it is within two years from the date the victim knew the condition was 9/11-related. That clock begins ticking on the date of World Trade Center Health Program certification, or when any other federal or state entity informed the victim that their condition is 9/11-related. Anyone with questions about whether or not they are eligible to apply to the VCF should contact a VCF lawyer at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP today. 

Victims with a 9/11-related illness do not need to definitively prove that their condition was caused by 9/11. Evaluations of claims are based on the date of the onset of symptoms or date of diagnosis, as well as the nature and duration of the victim’s presence in the Lower Manhattan Exposure Zone. 

September 11th Exposure Zone & Extent of Exposure

The New York City Exposure Zone is all of Lower Manhattan, south of Canal Street from the Hudson River to the intersection of Canal Street and East Broadway, north on East Broadway to Clinton Street, and east on Clinton Street to the East River. The sufficiency of exposure depends on the victim’s individual circumstances, including their location, nature of work, when they first arrived on site, and the duration of presence. A minimum number of hours present for cancer to develop is 4 hours or being directly in the dust cloud for any length of time.

Hiring a VCF Attorney to Aid in the Complex Application Process

Claimants must provide sufficient proof of presence, the extent of the severity of their injury, and proof of economic losses, including:

  • Tax returns
  • Medical records
  • Affidavits that prove presence in the disaster area
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Insurance/pension information

The Fund also provides for standard attorney fees of 10 percent contingency fee. Those who do not recover compensation will not pay any legal costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take for victims to get a VCF Payout?

The average final determination is 15 months from the date of submission of the claim. However, the determination can be quicker or longer depending on the complexity of the case. There may be prolonged by appeals and/or difficulties in obtaining records. 

How Much Compensation Can Victims Recover?

Each award is calculated individually. The final award: Non-Economic Loss plus Economic Loss minus Collateral Offsets. 

Non-Economic Loss

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund will award money to compensate for non-economic loss, also known as pain and suffering. Non-economic loss awards are presumed amounts based on the type of illness claimed. The non-economic loss award can be increased by presenting evidence of a significant effect on activities of daily living. For example, providing evidence of surgery or chemotherapy may increase the pain and suffering award. 

Non-Economic Awards for Cancer Survivors

The maximum non-economic award for any single type of cancer is $250,000, except skin cancer, which is in the range of $90,000. 

Non-Economic Awards for Non-Cancerous Conditions

The maximum non-economic award for any one type of non-cancerous condition is $90,000. 

Emphysema, Interstitial Lung Disease (including asbestosis), and sarcoidosis are considered so severe that they will warrant the highest possible non-cancerous award of $90,000 without the need for further documentation. However, there are limited exceptions where the $90,000 cap can be increased. Certain claimants with interstitial lung disease or other pulmonary illnesses suffer in the same way as a lung cancer victim. These claimants might require lung transplants or mechanical respiratory assistance on a daily basis. These claimants may receive the same award as someone with lung cancer. 

Economic Loss

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund awards compensation for Economic Loss, including loss of earnings, out of pocket medical expenses, funeral expenses, and household services. 

Loss of Earnings

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund awards compensation for loss of past and future earnings. The VCF will also compensate for the loss of employment-related benefits, including pension programs, retirement contribution plans, and health benefits. The VCF caps compensable gross income at $200,000 per year. The loss of earnings award is offset by pension, Social Security Disability (SSD), or private disability insurance. 

To prove that your 9/11 related condition is or was disabling, the VCF may accept determinations made by SSD, Workers’ Compensation, or a private disability insurer. Without SSA earnings, the loss must be proven by tax returns or other business records, as well as medical documentation supporting disability. In a death claim, loss of future earnings may be awarded where there is evidence that the death from an eligible condition and resulted in a compensable loss. 

For discrete past loss of earnings claims, you may be able to prove the loss without a disability determination by providing medical proof of a temporary disability. In certain circumstances, the VCF may permit a WTCHP disability evaluation, upon request. 

Awards for Death Claims

A death claim consists of the losses after the date of death with a presumed non-economic loss of $250,000 plus $100,000 for the surviving spouse and for each additional dependent. There will be an additional award for the pain and suffering from the date of injury to the date of death. 

How the 9/11 Fund Supports Survivors 

According to VCF.gov, the 9/11 Compensation Fund (VCF) was created to compensate people who were present at the site of the 9/11 attacks from September 11, 2001, to May 30, 2002, including:

Anyone who was present at any of these sites and has been diagnosed with a 9/11-related illness or suffer from aggravation of a pre-existing 9/11-related illness may be eligible for compensation. Family members of loved ones who have died are also eligible. The VCF compensates anyone, including residents and workers who were sufficiently present in one of the above-mentioned disaster locations. Contact the VCF lawyers at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP today to discuss eligibility. 

Why The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Is Vital

On September 18th, 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a statement claiming that the air quality in Lower Manhattan was safe, prompting residents and workers to return to Lower Manhattan.

According to a 2003 report released by the inspector general of the EPA, the EPA’s statement on September 18th saying that the air was safe was made without sufficient, reliable information. The EPA was influenced by the White House Council on Environmental Quality to make reassuring public comments. In fact, the air was filled with asbestos, fiberglass, mercury, benzene, and other carcinogens.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 400,000 workers, residents, building occupants, and passersby were exposed to the toxic dust cloud created by the attacks. 

As of June 2020, 54,000 claims have been filed with the 9/11 Compensation fund and $6.69 billion has been awarded in compensation.

Contact the VCF Lawyers at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP, For Help

A complex process requires the help of an experienced 9/11 compensation attorney. At Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP our VCF lawyers have helped 9/11 victims secure the compensation they deserve. Our lawyers remain at their side, navigating them through every step. Contact our law firm by calling 212-983-3000 or sending us an email.

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