If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor, you are likely aware that you might be eligible to receive an award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, the VCF’s procedures and policies can be confusing if you’re unfamiliar with them. Below are ten commonly asked questions and answers regarding filing a VCF claim.
1. What is the Zadroga Act?
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was a bill that was signed into law in 2010 to ensure responders and survivors receive the health monitoring and treatment they need for their 9/11-related cancers and health conditions. Named for an NYPD officer who passed away due to illness linked to the toxic dust cloud exposure, the Act also reopened the VCF to allow those who are eligible to file claims for compensation.
2. Can I still file a claim if I did not register with the VCF?
It’s important to understand that registering with the VCF and filing a claim are separate procedures. But in order to file a claim, you must first register with the VCF. While the earliest registration deadline was on July 29, 2021, you can still register within two years of the latest date of certification by the WTC Health Program for a 9/11 illness.
3. Do I need an attorney to file a VCF claim?
Although the VCF does not require that you retain counsel to file a claim, there are numerous advantages to having an experienced VCF attorney by your side. Critically, they can guide you through the complex and overwhelming claim filing process to ensure your paperwork is correct to avoid delay or denial of your claim. Importantly, an attorney can also help you maximize your compensation.
4. Do I qualify as a responder or a survivor?
The VCF classifies those eligible to receive compensation as either “responders” or “survivors.” Responders include those who aided in the rescue, recovery, and cleanup efforts at Ground Zero and in the NYC Exposure Zone in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. They include police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, EMS, Con-Ed workers, corrections officers, medical personnel, morgue workers, and many others. Survivors are those who lived, worked, or went to school in downtown Manhattan between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002.
5. What types of cancers does the VCF compensate?
The VCF recognizes and provides compensation for every type of cancer linked to the toxins in the 9/11 dust cloud. However, to receive compensation, you must satisfy the eligibility criteria, and your cancer condition must be certified by the WTC Health Program.
6. What is economic loss?
Economic loss is defined as the monetary losses you incurred due to your 9/11 injury or illness. In calculating an award for monetary loss, the VCF will consider lost earnings, loss of pension or retirement benefits, loss of replacement services, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and other pecuniary losses connected with your 9/11 health condition.
7. How much compensation can I recover from the VCF?
Every VCF award is different and depends upon how your 9/11 health condition affected your daily life and ability to work. While an award for economic loss is based on a number of factors, non-economic loss awards are paid in accordance with the Zadroga Act. Specifically, the amount of non-economic loss a responder or survivor may obtain for a non-cancer condition ranges from $10,000 to $90,000. Cancer conditions are capped at $250,000.
8. Will the amount of my award increase if I have multiple conditions?
The amount of compensation you are awarded by the VCF is not based on how many conditions you have that are linked to the toxic dust cloud. Rather, it is based on the severity of each. But there are some cases in which the Special Master will issue an award exceeding the statutory cap, such as when a responder or survivor has multiple cancers or a cancer with a presumptively severe non-cancer condition.
9. Is the WTC Health Program part of the VCF?
The WTC Health Program and the VCF are separate entities with distinct eligibility criteria. While the Program provides healthcare monitoring and treatment, it works closely with the VCF for the purpose of certifying 9/11 health conditions to ensure responders and survivors obtain the compensation they deserve.
10. How long will it take to receive my award?
The VCF handles claims on a “first-in, first-out” order, based on submission date. Claims must then go through two stages of review, including the preliminary review and the substantive review. Although the VCF strives to issue compensation within a year, claims that are more complex can often take longer. In addition, failure to provide the required documentation within your claim submission package can cause further delay.
Contact a New York 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor, you may be eligible to receive compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Since registering and filing a claim for compensation with the VCF can be confusing and frustrating, it’s best to have a 9/11 VCF attorney by your side every step of the way.
The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have represented claimants and their families in 9/11 VCF claims for more than a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.