The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. changed the world forever. The event claimed the lives of 2,900 people and injured more than 6,000. Then, in the weeks and months to follow, thousands of first responders, members of the FDNY and NYPD, and others present at Ground Zero, began to die.
In response to the growing number of first responders with cancer and other Ground-Zero-related illnesses, in 2001 Congress authorized funding for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). Due to funding problems, the program ended in 2004 and wasn’t revived until 2010 and 2015.
However, it is the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act, signed by President Trump in 2019, that provides permanent protections and compensation for those suffering from 9/11 related illnesses. Without the bill, many 9/11 first responders and their families would be forced to deal with mounting medical bills and uncertainty without help.
While the primary goal of the act was to extend the filing deadline for VCF claimants, it has afforded 9/11 survivors many other benefits.
How does the Never Forget the Heroes Act affect Claimants?
Claimants seeking compensation through the Act must file the necessary paperwork. To better understand the legal process and ensure applications are not delayed due to clerical mistakes, applicants should retain the services of an experienced attorney. A 9/11 fund lawyer who focuses on handling VCF claims can quickly identify claims that have merit.
The Never Forget the Heroes Act affects claimants in the following ways:
- It removes funding caps — Earlier versions of VCF were capped at a certain amount. This meant that not every applicant received the same compensation — in fact, only a select number of claimants ever received full funding. As a result of the Never Forget the Heroes Act, those limitations are removed and now the VCF is to be funded with “such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2019 and each fiscal year thereafter through fiscal year 2092, to remain available until expended.” Thanks to the Act, victims no longer have to worry about whether they will receive the funds they need.
- The VCF is permanently funded — When president Obama reauthorized the VCF in 2015, the deadline for filing claims was December 2020. Thanks to the Never Forget the Heroes Act, the deadline for new applicants has been extended to 2090. Although technically only 70 years after the date of the previous deadline and not “permanent,” the date was chosen because it is longer than the anticipated lifespan of the majority of first responders from 9/11.
- Prior applicants will be fully compensated — During the start of 2019, the Special Master of the VCF concluded that the $7.375 billion it received would not be enough to pay all current and future awarded claims by 2020. To ensure the VCF would not run out of funding before 2020, the Special Master of the VCF reduced awards. Under the Never Forget the Heroes Act, the VCF must fully compensate any claimants whose awards were reduced by compensating them with an appropriate sum. Anyone who believes they are due additional compensation from the VCF should consult with an experienced 9/11 victim fund attorney in New York as soon as possible.
- Removes the cap for non-economic damages in certain cases — Previously, non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life, etc.) were capped at $250,000 for cancer applicants and $90,000 for all other claimants. The Never Forget the Heroes Act retains those caps but gives the Special Master authority to surpass those caps in “special circumstances,” where the amount is deemed insufficient given the claimants damages.
For more information about the act, or eligibility, consult with an experienced 9/11 victim attorney.
NYC Responders continue to suffer from 9/11-related illnesses.
9/11 occurred nearly 20 years ago. Thousands of lives were lost almost immediately. Today, the tragic event continues to claim American lives — ground Zero related illnesses are still impacting New York responders and survivors.
Fortunately, a victims compensation fund has been set up to take care of the emergency responders and other personnel who suffer from cancer and other illnesses. The Never Forget the Heroes Act permanently protects the fund as well as its recipients. Retain the services of a skilled attorney for more information on filing a claim.
Contact a team of compassionate 9/11 victim attorneys in New York
At Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP, our lawyers are dedicated to helping 9/11 survivors recover rightful compensation. Our in-depth knowledge of the Victims Compensation fund as well as the Never Forget the Heroes Act ensures you receive the financial assistance you need. For more information on our services or to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, call us or contact us today.