For victims of the vicious terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, there is no going back to the way things were in the days, weeks, or months before 9/11. While there is no way to turn back the clock, there is help for victims who were injured, who were made ill by the toxic dust, or who lost a loved family member through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was created to provide monetary compensation for 9/11 victims and their families
Nearly 3,000 souls perished as a direct result of the 9/11 attacks: 189 at the Pentagon, 44 in the Pennsylvania plane crash, and the vast majority—2763—in or near the World Trade Center. Many more have become ill from exposure to the toxic dust from the collapse of the Twin Towers. And families have lost partners, spouses, parents or children in the attacks or from medical conditions related to dust exposure. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund helps by bringing financial relief not only to first responders, such as FDNY firefighters or members of the NYPD, but to all those who suffered an injury, a 9/11-related illness, or the loss of a loved one.
The original September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (known as VCF1) was established by Congress shortly after the attacks and with a maximum of $7.35 billion to disburse, which also had to include operational and administrative costs. It covered only two “classes” of victims who suffered “physical injury or death as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” including those who were present at the crash sites on 9/11 or the passengers or crew of any aircraft that crashed on 9/11 as a result of terrorist activity.
VCF 1 closed to new claims in December 2003, having disbursed $7.049 billion to 5,560 claimants (97% of all claims to families). With concerns related to injuries and evolving illnesses among those who engaged in rescue, recovery, and cleanup at the 9/11 disaster sites, VCF was reopened in 2010 and reauthorized in 2015. Because of concerns that the fund was running out of money, it was again reauthorized and signed into law as the Public Law 116 – 59 – Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020, and Health Extenders Act of 2019, better known as the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.
This act fully funds the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and reauthorizes it through the year 2090.
9/11 compensation payouts are determined by a “calculation of loss”
Each and every claim submitted to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is calculated individually. The actual amount a victim or family of a deceased victim receives is based on the formula:
- Economic loss + non-economic loss – collateral offset = compensation payout
Economic loss: Loss of earnings and benefits, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and replacement services loss (reasonable expenses incurred because of illness or injury in lieu of those an injured person would have performed his or herself; e.g., housecleaning or yardwork help).
Non-economic loss: A dollar amount assigned to the “grievous harm” suffered by victims and, in the case of death, the families of victims. Non-economic losses are defined as “losses for physical and emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium (other than loss of domestic service), hedonic damages, injury to reputation, and all other non-pecuniary losses of any kind or nature.”
Collateral offset: Compensation a claimant received from another source as a result of an eligible injury. This may include compensation from life insurance, pensions, Social Security survivor and dependents benefits, or previous settlement payments from 9/11 lawsuits.
Eligibility for 9/11 compensation from the VCF requires proof that a claimant:
- Registered with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund within the deadline
- Has a 9/11-related medical condition that is certified by the World Trade Center Health Program
- Was present in one of the attack sites, such as the New York City Exposure Zone or the debris removal route, at some point between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002
- Has legal authority to make a claim on behalf of a deceased or incapacitated victim’s behalf
- Has dismissed, withdrawn, or settled any 9/11-related lawsuits prior to the appropriate deadline
Average compensation depends on a number of factors
September 11th Victim Compensation Fund payouts of close to $1.5 billion were awarded to nearly 10,000 eligible claimants in 2021. This includes first responders, cleanup workers and volunteers, office workers, students, residents, and others who were injured, made ill, or lost family members because the terrorist attacks.
As of the end of 2021, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund has paid out almost $9.4 billion dollars to 9/11 victims and their families.
In the earliest years of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, payouts ranged from $500 to $8.6 million. The average death claim was compensated at $2,082,128. Claims for cancer did not exist until 2012.
Today, average payouts are:
- For most types of cancer: $250,000. The exceptions are primary basal cell cancer or squamous cell carcinoma (surface skin cancers) that may be compensated for up to $90,000
- For airway and digestive disorders (including GERD; interstitial lung disease; chronic cough syndrome and other chronic aerodigestive issues that are 9/11-related): up to $90,000
- Death benefits to the survivors of victims who succumbed to a certified 9/11 illness: $250,000 for a surviving spouse, plus $300,000 for the dependents.
Compound awards in cases of multiple and/or severe illnesses, while rarely made, can be substantial: up to $325,000.
What is your 9/11 compensation claim worth?
While there are “typical” claims, no case is “average,” as each victim has his or her unique circumstances. As a claimant, you may benefit from help from an experienced 9/11 attorney to ensure you receive full and fair compensation. If you are experiencing a medical condition or illness caused by exposure to the toxic dust from the WTC collapse or are a surviving family member, make sure you are getting the payout you need to move forward. To schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled lawyers, contact us online or call us at 332-334-8916