Every 9/11, tributes come in from across the country and around the world expressing sorrow for the loss of lives that occurred during the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of the plane in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. A New York Times article published on September 11, 2021, notes that “memorials have been held around the world, and tributes have been paid by global leaders, in memory of the victims, survivors, and families affected.”
One world leader summed it up by simply stating that “20 years have passed, but the shock of that day still remains as deep wounds in the hearts of so many.” Few feel those wounds so deeply as the families of those who perished on 9/11 or succumbed to injuries or illnesses related to the attacks.
September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Compensation Available to 9/11 Families
The Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (ATSSSA)was created by Congress on September 22, 2001, to “provide various forms of relief to the American airline industry and affirmed Congress’s commitment to improving airline safety.” More importantly, Title IV of this act—called the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, now more commonly known as the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)—was enacted to provide compensation and monetary relief to the victims of 9/11 and their surviving family members.
9/11 victims’ families not only lost a loved one, they most often have also lost the person on whom they depended for emotional and financial support. According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) Fiscal Year 2022 Budget and Performance Plan report as of December 31, 2020, “the VCF has awarded nearly $7.8 billion in compensation to over 34,400 individuals who have suffered physical health conditions—including (payments to) the families of over 1,700 people who died as a result of their exposure to the terrorist attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.”
Families of those who died as a result of “Exposure Zone” illnesses may be eligible to file a September 11th Victim Compensation Fund claim
Those who worked, volunteered, lived, went to school, or were in adult-care or daycare in lower Manhattan from September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002, were exposed to the highly toxic, carcinogenic dust that covered the ground and was dispersed through the air following the collapse of the twin towers.
The WTC Exposure Zone includes the portions of Manhattan “south of the line that runs along 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; and any area related to or along the routes of debris removal, such as barges and Fresh Kills landfill.”
While some 2,750 people were killed directly in the World Trade Center attack, many more have succumbed to illnesses resulting from exposure to the toxic dust in the Exposure Zone. Sadly, each and every day, another person dies from a 9/11 illness.
Through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, there can be some justice in the form of monetary compensation to help ensure that there is money to pay funeral costs; cover mortgages, rent, and utility bills; put food on the table; and provide financial stability for children and spouses.
Applying for September 11th Victim Compensation Fund compensation when a family member passes away as a result of a 9/11 illness
In order to receive compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, it must first be shown that the deceased family member:
- Was present in the Exposure Zone during the specified dates
- Was present in the Exposure Zone for a certain number of hours (varies according to the illness)
- Had a 9/11-related illness certified by the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP)
The Personal Representative—sometimes referred to as the Executor or Administrator of the Estate—for the family of a 9/11 victim is the one who applies for compensation on behalf of the heirs. If a claim was filed prior to the death of the victim, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund stops the claims process or payment of the claim until the Personal Representative is appointed by the surrogate or probate court (unless one was previously designated in the decedent’s will) and validated by the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
Once the Personal Representative has been identified and validated, and if the cause of death is believed to be related to a 9/11 medical condition, the Personal Representative must:
- Submit documents, including:
- An original or certified copy of the death certificate
- Letters of Administration, Letters Testamentary, or other Court Order showing the appointment as the Personal Representative, Executor of Will, or Administrator of the Estate
- Proof of cause of death, if not shown on the death certificate
- Complete and submit the Claim Form Signature Page and the Claim Form Appendix A, which gives permission to the “decedent’s doctors, health care providers or other entities listed below to disclose the decedent’s health information”
When an award (compensation) is approved “The VCF will issue payment on behalf of a deceased victim to the Personal Representative of the deceased individual. The Personal Representative, however, is not necessarily the person who will ultimately receive the award…The Personal Representative is required to distribute the award in accordance with the law of the victim’s domicile.”
How a 9/11 Fund lawyer can help your family
When a husband, a wife, a father, a mother, or a child, passes, it is hard on those left behind. For 9/11 victims’ families, it is often difficult to come to terms with the what and the why of it all. While compensation brings much needed financial relief, filing claims is often rife with red tape, such as obtaining records that prove the deceased’s presence in the Exposure Zone within the specified dates, and meeting filing timeframes. This is where a 9/11 attorney can be of benefit.
When choosing the law firm to help you with your claim, look for one that:
- Understands what you’re going through
- Will take the time to listen to your concerns
- Is responsive and answers your questions, no matter how big or small
- Most of all, has the skill needed to successfully get claims paid
At Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP, you can count on us to be as aggressive as needed to ensure that your family is compensated fully and fairly while being compassionate about your situation. Our experience shows in the way we have helped victims and their families obtain the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund benefits they need to move forward.
Contact Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP today
To learn more about how one of our knowledgeable 9/11 VCF lawyers can help, please contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your needs.