9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Payout Awards

9-11 Victim Compensation Fund Payout Awards

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is a federal administrative program run by the US Department of Justice that compensates individuals who developed 9/11-related illnesses.

The eligibility criteria for receiving an award center on whether an individual lived, worked or went to school in the 9/11 Disaster Area (Manhattan south of Canal Street) between 9/11 and May 30, 2002 — and subsequently developed an illness related to that experience.

Many serious illnesses have been associated with exposure to a huge range of toxins present in the air around Ground Zero and beyond in the months after the attacks. The VCF was established specifically to ensure that financial assistance was available for victims to cover both economic and non-economic losses.

Let’s take a closer look at the type of VCF payout awards available, the main associated illnesses covered, the eligibility criteria for claiming compensation and the tax implications of claiming an award.

VCF awards overview

A claim for compensation with the VCF is not a lawsuit but legal assistance may be advantageous to maximize and expedite a claim. Each claim is assessed according to the facts, circumstances, and supporting evidence provided.

Evidence should show proof of an individual’s presence in the Disaster Area between the applicable dates, as well as the illness suffered and any economic losses incurred from the illness, such as medical bills, loss of earnings/employee benefits, etc.

Most commonly, medical proof of a 9/11-related illness is established by registration and certification from the WTC Health Program.

No set payout chart or payment grid exists to calculate a VCF award. Each case is assessed on its own merits. VCF Award amounts are designed to reflect the severity and impact of various health conditions on victims’ lives.

General guidelines can be established based on our experience of handling claims for 9/11 victims over the years.

The following table outlines the expected standard payouts for the pain and suffering endured for different types of illnesses and conditions (note: these sums are simply starting points and other awards may also be available, as discussed below):

Victim Compensation Fund Payout Chart

Award Amount Disorders
Up to $90,000, varies from claim to claim. Airway and digestive disorders, including asthma, chronic cough syndrome, chronic laryngitis, chronic Nasopharyngitis, chronic respiratory disorder (from fumes and vapors), chronic rhinosinusitis, Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), interstitial lung disease, new-onset and WTC-exacerbated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), reactive airway dysfunction syndrome (rads), sleep apnea and upper airways hyperreactivity.
Up to $90,000, varies from claim to claim. Skin cancer (non-melanoma)
Up to $200,000 and possibly as much as $250,000 Prostate cancer
Up to $250,000 or more, varies and depends on each particular claim Other cancers include blood and lymphoid tissue (including lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia), breast cancer (female & male), childhood cancers, cancers of the digestive system (including colon and rectum cancer), eye and orbit cancer, ovarian cancer, head and neck (oropharynx and tonsil cancer), mesothelioma, cancers of the respiratory system (including lung and bronchus cancer), melanoma skin cancer, soft and connective tissue cancer, thyroid cancer, urinary system cancers (including kidney and bladder cancer), uterine and endometrial cancer, and rare cancers.

Economic Loss Awards

In addition to VCF awards for pain and suffering, economic loss awards may also be available from the Victim Compensation Fund.

These potentially include:

  • Lost wages
  • Future loss of earnings
  • Loss of employer-provided fringe benefits, e.g., health insurance, pension, 401(k)
  • Loss of household services
  • Funeral and burial expenses (in wrongful death cases)

In the most extreme cases, where employee disability leads to extensive loss of earnings, claims can run into millions of dollars.

Deceased Claim Awards

9/11 deceased claims, sometimes known as wrongful death cases, can also lead to compensation from the VCF for the family of the deceased.

Some guideline sums have been set aside for the victims in such cases, including the following:

  • $250,000 for a 9/11-related death
  • $100,000 for a surviving spouse
  • $100,000 for each surviving dependent of the deceased

Other deceased claim awards may include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Future economic losses (these can be significant)
  • Loss of union or employer-provided benefits such as healthcare, pension benefits, future raises of pay increases, cost of living increases of adjustments (COLA), annuities, sick pay, vacation pay, etc.
  • Loss of household services after the 9/11 victim became disabled or passed away

Some deceased claim awards can run into millions of dollars in compensation. In such cases, it’s generally best to seek legal assistance to cover everything that you are entitled to and maximize the claim, supporting it with the appropriate evidence and documentation.

How to prove VCF award eligibility

A VCF award is only available to victims who can provide evidence of the following:

  • Presence in the 9/11 Exposure Zone between 9/11 and May 30, 2002, and
  • Evidence of a 9/11-related illness certified by the WTC Health Program (WTCHP) or similar.

Potential victims include first responders, volunteers, civilian area workers, residents, and students at the time. Provided that the eligibility requirements above are met, there is a good chance of receiving compensation for losses from the Victim Compensation Fund.

Similarly, family members of anyone who died from a 9/11-related illness or injury may be eligible for compensation.

Which health conditions are eligible?

With 9/11-related illnesses, most people think of cancer or breathing conditions. These do constitute a large proportion of the claims but are not the only conditions covered.

Over 70 different types of cancer are covered as 9-11-related, including lung, prostate, breast, and colon cancers. Gastrointestinal disorders and certain mental and behavioral health conditions (like PTSD and depression) are included as well as many respiratory diseases. Some musculoskeletal conditions are also eligible for compensation.

Taxes and VCF award

Like with most major payouts, there may be federal tax implications to receiving a VCF award.

The good news is that VCF awards are, in general, exempt from federal income taxes. This includes the following payouts:

  • Compensation for economic loss damages (e.g., loss of earnings, loss of benefits, etc.)
  • Compensation for non-economic loss damages (pain and suffering)

The IRS guidance on this matter is quite specific to VCF awards and provides that any amounts awarded and paid by the VCF are not subject to federal income taxes.

However, your local 9-11 Victim Compensation Fund lawyer can advise you about whether any state or local taxes may apply to either payouts or investments made from any awards received.

The benefits of working with a 9/11 VCF attorney

The Victim Compensation Fund is an excellent resource for anyone whose health has been impacted by exposure to toxins in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The financial burden of such an impact on victims and their families should not need to be met alone.

The money is there to help compensate victims for losses suffered — and it is certainly possible to go through the eligibility and claims process without legal assistance.

However, maximizing claims often requires some experience and know-how of the process that most claimants don’t possess. Completing the right documentation and gathering and presenting key supporting evidence to bolster a claim are essential parts of the process.

Our 9/11 VCF attorneys have the experience of handling many claims over many years and can look after the process from start to finish.

To discuss your situation and learn more about how we may be able to help you, please call Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP at 332-239-2238 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation

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