9/11 Related Illnesses Covered By The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund & The World Trade Center Health Program

The individuals who were present on or after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Shanksville, PA, and the Pentagon, were exposed to toxic substances in the air following September 11th.

9/11 responders and students, residents, and workers in Lower Manhattan, who were present below Canal Street between September 11th, 2001 and May 30th, 2002, may be eligible for substantial compensation for 9/11 related illnesses.

At Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP our highly experienced and dedicated 9/11 lawyers are committed to helping 9/11 victims get the health care and financial compensation they deserve. Contact us today at 212-983-3000 for a free and confidential consultation. 

The World Trade Center Health Program and September 11th Victim Compensation Fund

Years after 9/11, the number of victims continues to rise. Cancer and aerodigestive disorders have been linked to exposure in the 9/11 disaster area. The former September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was established in 2001 to provide financial assistance to these individuals, but it ended in 2004. However, people continue to become ill with cancer decades later.  

In response, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (Zadroga Act), named for the first NYPD officer to die of a 9/11-related illness, was established in 2010 to provide quality health care and financial compensation to victims and their families. 

Under the Zadroga Act, the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) provides medical care and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) provides compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, survivor benefits, and out-of-pocket expenses. By hiring a VCF lawyer, survivors and responders can determine their eligibility for these programs and file a claim to obtain the health care and compensation they deserve.

What Illnesses are Covered by the 911 Fund?

To receive compensation through the VCF, the illness must be certified by the WTCHP as a 9/11-related health condition. In some cases, conditions not included on the list of certified illnesses may be eligible as an associated condition. It is in the best interest of anyone who believes they may be suffering from a 9/11-9/11 Related Illnessesrelated condition to speak with an experienced 9/11 fund lawyer to determine eligibility for compensation and ensure access to the maximum award possible. 

Some 9/11 related illnesses and injuries certified by the WTCHP include:

Acute Traumatic Injuries

Severe, debilitating injuries related to the 9/11 attacks, or that occurred during rescue operations or clean up, are eligible for VCF compensation. Examples of acute traumatic injuries include traumatic brain injuries, burns, fractures, and injuries to the eyes. For acute traumatic injuries, there must be medical documentation contemporaneous with the injury.

Aerodigestive Disorders

Disorders affecting the airway and digestive system, known as aerodigestive orders, are common in people exposed to toxic dust following the 9/11 attacks. 

Some examples include:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic respiratory disorder due to fumes/vapors
  • Lung diseases – including but not limited to: asbestosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, sarcoidosis, eosinophilic granuloma, bronchiolitis obliterans, pneumoconiosis, and certain systemic autoimmune diseases such as the connective tissue diseases (CTD), and small-vessel vasculitides.
  • Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS)
  • Sleep apnea exacerbated by or related to another condition in the list of aerodigestive disorders
  • Upper airway hyperreactivity
  • WTC-exacerbated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • New-onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory asthma

Cancer

There is a much higher cancer rate among individuals exposed to the toxic dust following the 9/11 attacks than in the general population. Some examples of the types of cancers that are eligible for VCF compensation include: 

  • Childhood cancer (any type of cancer diagnosed in a person less than 20 years of age)
  • Blood and lymphoid tissue (including leukemia and lymphoma)
  • Digestive system
  • Eye and orbit
  • Female breast
  • Female reproductive organs
  • Head and neck
  • Respiratory system
  • Skin (melanoma/non-melanoma)
  • Thyroid
  • Soft tissue
  • Urinary system
  • Mesothelioma
  • Rare cancers (any type of cancer that occurs in less than 15 people per 100,000 persons per year in the United States. Including but not limited to bone, gallbladder, pancreas, and others)
  • Other cancers

Mental Health Conditions

Several mental health conditions suffered by individuals present at any of the 9/11 crash sites are eligible for medical treatment. These include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse.

Here is the complete list of WTCHP-certified health conditions and injuries. Contact Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP today for more information. 

What Toxins Were in the Air and Smoke at Ground Zero?

When the World Trade Center towers collapsed on September 11th, 2001, the resulting mix of toxic and irritating substances remained in Lower Manhattan for months. 

The combination of jet fuel and millions of tons of building materials created a mixture of smoke and dust containing dioxins, asbestos, lead, cement, gypsum, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), benzene, chromium, and glass fibers.

PCBs are extremely dangerous to human health and become even more so at high temperatures. According to a 2007 analysis of dust samples taken a week after the attacks, published by EPA scientists, “the levels of toxic dioxins measured near Ground Zero “were the highest ambient measurements of dioxin ever recorded anywhere in the world.”

It’s important to note that the 9/11 related illnesses caused by this toxic dust affected hundreds of thousands of people. The New England Journal of Medicine dubbed the cough that seemed to afflict so many survivors and first responders the “World Trade Center cough,” which is estimated to have affected almost 50% of those present.

How Much Time Do 9/11 Victims Have To File a VCF Claim?

Individuals diagnosed with a 9/11 related illness who are looking to file a VCF claim for compensation, will first need to apply to the WTCHP as 9/11 illnesses are certified via this program. Victims will also need to register with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). All registrations with the VCF by July 29th, 2021, are considered timely, regardless of the date of diagnosis. Those who do not register with the VCF by July 29th, 2021, may still register so long as it is within two years from the date of certification by the World Trade Center Health Program, two years from the date of death for death claims, or within two years of the date the individual became aware of the program. Please note that registering with the VCF in a timely fashion does not ensure compensation.

Upon successful WTCHP certification and timely VCF registration, victims can then file a claim for compensation with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The attorneys at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP can guide victims through this complex process to ensure they receive the maximum compensation available through their VCF claim.

Additionally, anyone who was present in the Exposure Zone can and should simply register with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund even if they have not been diagnosed with a 9/11-related illness. Registration simply notifies the VCF that the individual is a potential claimant and preserves their right to file a claim in the future, should they become ill. 

Contact Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP Today

Individuals suffering from any of the 9/11 related illnesses mentioned above, who were present in the NYC exposure zone, should contact the skilled legal team at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP for assistance making a claim for compensation to the VCF. 

The complex process requires the help of an experienced VCF attorney. At Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP we have helped 9/11 victims secure the compensation they deserve by providing thorough, dedicated representation and always submitting medically-supported optional impact statements. 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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