More than twenty years have passed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and survivors continue to be diagnosed with severe health problems linked to the resulting toxic dust cloud. Along with over 82,000 responders, more than 30,000 survivors have registered with the World Trade Center Health Program. Nearly one-third of these individuals have developed some form of cancer.
Thousands more have been diagnosed with chronic rhinosinusitis, GERD, asthma, chronic respiratory disorders, various aerodigestive conditions, and other diseases. It’s important that survivors are aware that they may be eligible to receive an award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for their 9/11-related illnesses.
9/11 Survivor Eligibility Criteria
In addition to providing 9/11 responders with compensation for their 9/11-related cancers, illnesses, and health conditions, the VCF also offers monetary recovery to other eligible 9/11 survivors for their economic and non-economic losses. Survivors who qualify for VCF compensation include those who lived, worked, went to school, or were present at any location near Ground Zero, or in the area south of Canal Street, in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001.
Specifically, you must meet the following VCF eligibility criteria if you are a 9/11 survivor:
- Have a 9/11 physical health condition certified by the WTC Health Program.
- Show you were present in the NYC Exposure Zone at any time between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002.
- Register with the VCF by the deadline that applies to your specific circumstances.
- Submit a claim by the October 1, 2090, deadline.
- Dismiss or settle any 9/11-related lawsuits.
Some survivors may have received awards from the original VCF that operated between 2001 and 2004. If the condition for which you were awarded compensation worsened or you developed a new illness, you may be entitled to compensation for your additional losses.
It’s crucial to understand that the VCF’s eligibility criteria are separate from the requirements of the WTC Health Program. However, in order to receive an award from the VCF, a survivor must first go through the process of enrolling with the Program and obtaining certification for their condition.
Proof of Presence for Survivors
Proving that you were present in the NYC Exposure Zone during the time period specified by the Zadroga Act is critical to ensuring that you obtain the VCF award to which you are entitled. Generally, there are two ways presence can be established with the VCF: through third-party verification or contemporaneous documents created between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002.
Third-party verification of presence must be mailed directly to the VCF from a party such as your employer. If this documentation does not provide sufficient detail, the VCF may request additional information regarding your presence.
Contemporaneous documents are those kept during the ordinary course of business. They can include pay stubs showing your place of employment was in the NYC Exposure Zone, official government documents such as a W-2 form showing your residential address, and certified school or daycare records confirming enrollment. While a rental agreement, mortgage receipt, or utility bill listing your address may help to establish residency, you must also submit documentation proving you were physically present at the address during the statutory time frame.
The VCF Special Master recognizes that it may be difficult for survivors to obtain certain documentation, or it may no longer be available. In these cases, you may submit detailed Witness Presence Statements attested to by someone with personal knowledge of your presence within the NYC Exposure Zone during the relevant time period. If Witness Presence Statements are the only documentation you will be providing in support of your claim, a minimum of two must be submitted — at least one must be from a person who is not related to you.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you’re a 9/11 survivor, it’s essential to enroll in the WTC Health Program and register with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. An experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney can help ensure you obtain the monetary award you deserve for your 9/11-related cancer, illness, or health condition. If you’re unsure of your eligibility or have additional questions, contact us today for a free consultation.