Establishing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund: A Prompt Response
The history of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund began on September 22, 2001, just days after the terrorist attacks took nearly 3,000 lives. The fund was created by an act of Congress to provide compensation for those who were injured or lost loved ones in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks or the immediate aftermath. Twenty years later, the VCF continues to serve the 9/11 community to ensure each eligible responder and survivor is fairly compensated for their 9/11-related health conditions.
Although the original 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund closed in December 2003, the VCF was later reopened. As responders and survivors continued to develop severe illnesses from exposure to the toxins in the dust cloud, the fund expanded several times until it was permanently authorized in 2019 — and fully funded through 2090.
The Original 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
Less than two weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks, Congress enacted the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act. The Act provided relief to the airline industry for the financial loss it suffered related to the terrorist attacks and to prevent them from going bankrupt.
A specific provision in the Act also allowed responders and survivors — and families who lost loved ones — to receive compensation for physical injuries sustained as a result of the terrorist-related airplane crashes. By filing a claim with the VCF, the person agreed to waive their right to file a lawsuit against the airlines.
The original VCF operated until its closing in December 2003. It paid out a total of $7.049 billion to 5,560 claimants.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010
The second phase in the history of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund commenced when the VCF was reopened in 2011 as a result of President Obama signing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 into law. The reopened VCF provided financial benefits for those who developed 9/11-related illnesses in connection with the rescue, recovery, and debris removal work in the aftermath of the attacks, between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002. Those who lived, worked, or went to school in the area south of Canal Street could also receive compensation for 9/11-related illnesses if they met the VCF eligibility requirements.
Additionally, the Zadroga Act established the WTC Health Program to provide medical monitoring and treatment for responders and survivors with eligible 9/11-related health conditions.
Initially, the reopened VCF only allowed for new claims to be filed through October 3, 2016. It was reauthorized in December 2015, extending the period to file a claim for five more years. The reauthorization law also made several changes to the VCF’s procedures and policies, including placing caps on non-economic loss claims and prioritizing claims for victims suffering the most debilitating conditions.
Due to the increased number of claims submitted, the Special Master determined in February 2019 that the VCF lacked adequate funding to pay out on all pending and future claims. As a result of the funding deficiencies, the Special Master announced that the VCF’s policies would be modified and compensation awards would be reduced.
However, the VCF funding issue was resolved with the passing of the VCF Permanent Authorization Act.
The VCF Permanent Authorization Act
In July 2019, President Trump signed into law The Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund — also known as the VCF Permanent Authorization Act. The Act requires the VCF to provide additional payment to any responder or survivor affected by the award reductions and extended the VCF’s claim filing deadline until October 1, 2090.
The Permanent Authorization Act ensures that the VCF is fully funded into the future to serve the 9/11 community for decades to come. With the passage of the Act, every eligible responder or survivor who suffers from a certified 9/11-related health condition can be assured that they will be compensated for their losses.
Contact a 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you were a survivor or responder who developed an eligible 9/11-related health condition, you may be entitled to compensation from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has represented thousands of first responders, firemen, police officers, volunteers, office workers, and New York City residents who suffered illnesses related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, helping them navigate the complex VCF regulations and procedures. Having secured over $150 million in VCF compensation for our clients throughout the history of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, we are committed to ensuring each client is awarded the maximum compensation they’re entitled to receive for their certified 9/11-related illnesses. Contact us for a consultation.