The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) isn’t limited only to first responders. Those who lived or worked in Lower Manhattan in the weeks and months following the September 11th terrorist attacks were also exposed to thousands of chemicals in the dust cloud that covered the area. As a result, many residents and employees in the vicinity developed various illnesses, including aerodigestive disorders, respiratory conditions, and cancers. These survivors may be eligible for medical monitoring and treatment from the World Trade Center Health Program — as well as monetary recovery from the VCF.
Filing a VCF Claim If You Lived or Worked in the NYC Exposure Zone
The VCF allows residents who lived in the area designated as the NYC Exposure Zone in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 to file claims for health conditions connected with the toxic dust cloud. Survivors who lived south of Canal Street at any time between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, must submit proof of presence to the VCF. This documentation can come in the form of any of the following:
- Lease or rental agreements
- Mortgage receipts
- Proof of rent payment
- Utility bills
- A detailed personal statement
Manhattan office workers, employees, and others who worked in the area comprising the NYC Exposure Zone in the weeks after September 11, 2001, may also qualify as survivors to obtain VCF compensation. Importantly, they must also provide proof of presence within the applicable time frame defined by the Zadroga Act. Proof of presence for employees may include employment records, pay stubs, a letter from an employer, a personal statement, and affidavits.
VCF Eligibility Criteria for Survivors
A 9/11 illness can have serious effects on a survivor’s life and livelihood. All eligible survivors who satisfy the necessary criteria may be entitled to an award from the VCF to address the economic and non-economic impact. But it’s essential to be aware that survivors must first have their illnesses certified by the WTC Health Program, which has a separate set of eligibility criteria.
The VCF does not specify a specific amount of time a survivor must have spent in the NYC Exposure Zone. However, to qualify for medical monitoring and treatment with the Program, a survivor must have spent at least four days in the area defined as the “NYC Disaster Area” between September 11, 2001, and January 10, 2002. Those who were present between September 11, 2001, through July 31, 2002, must have spent at least 30 days there, with four hours being the equivalent of one day. The NYC Disaster Area is larger in scope than the VCF’s NYC Exposure Zone and encompasses the area south of Houston Street and any block in Brooklyn contained within a 1.5-mile radius of Ground Zero.
Survivors who qualify may be able to recover their economic losses from the VCF that are connected to their certified health conditions. These can include loss of earnings, pension benefits, and out-of-pocket medical costs. A survivor may also receive a monetary award for the pain and suffering they experienced due to their 9/11-related illness. Also referred to as “non-economic losses,” these generally entitle survivors to between $10,000 and $90,000 for a non-cancer and up to $250,000 for a cancer, based on the severity of the condition. The Special Master may exceed the statutory cap only in limited circumstances.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you lived or worked in lower Manhattan after the September 11th terrorist attacks, you may be eligible to receive compensation from the VCF. However, navigating the VCF’s regulations can be confusing, frustrating, and overwhelming. It’s best to have an experienced VCF attorney who can guide you every step of the way and help ensure you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. See our article about the NYC exposure zone.
The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have represented claimants and their families in VCF claims for more than a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.