The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund issues monetary awards to responders and survivors who have been diagnosed with illnesses and cancers linked to the toxic dust cloud that covered Lower Manhattan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, victims need to understand that to obtain monetary recovery from the VCF, they must first obtain certification for their 9/11-related condition from the World Trade Center Health Program. The two entities are separate and have their own eligibility criteria — but they work closely together to ensure responders and survivors obtain the VCF awards to which they are entitled.
What Is the WTC Health Program?
The WTC Health Program provides medical monitoring and treatment to eligible 9/11 responders and survivors who have developed illnesses linked to the toxic dust cloud. It also certifies 9/11-related illnesses so that victims can obtain the compensation they deserve from the VCF. Importantly, the VCF will only issue a monetary award to a responder or survivor if their health condition is first certified by the Program.
The Program provides free treatment for a wide range of health conditions, including aerodigestive disorders, respiratory conditions, cancer, and musculoskeletal disorders. While the Program also provides treatment for mental health conditions linked to the terrorist attacks, the VCF only provides compensation for physical conditions.
How Do You Enroll in the WTC Health Program?
Three steps must be taken when applying to the WTC Health Program to obtain compensation from the VCF. First, a responder or survivor must determine whether they meet the criteria to become a member. The Program serves four groups of people, including the following:
- FDNY responders
- WTC general responders
- WTC survivors who lived, worked, or went to school in the NYC Disaster Area
- Pentagon and Shanksville responders
The second step in applying is satisfying the Program’s documentation requirements. Significantly, the Program’s eligibility criteria regarding time frame, activity, and location differ from the VCF’s requirements. Not only are the geographical parameters and exposure time frames different for each entity — but there are minimum hour requirements imposed by the WTC Health Program, depending on the victim’s activities, tasks they were carrying out, and reason for their presence.
Once eligibility has been determined and the documentation requirements are satisfied, the third step that must be completed to enroll in the WTC Health Program is submitting the application. This can be done online or by sending a paper application through the mail. This application process is distinct from the procedures for filing a VCF claim.
How Do You Obtain WTC Health Program Certification to Receive VCF Compensation?
After a responder or survivor has met the eligibility criteria and enrolled in the WTC Health Program, they must attend an initial health evaluation. At this screening, a doctor will perform a variety of tests to determine whether an eligible 9/11 health condition exists — and whether exposure to the dust cloud is substantially likely to have been a factor in causing, aggravating, or contributing to the condition. Once an eligible illness has been diagnosed, the Program doctor will sign certain paperwork and submit a Certification Package to request certification for the condition.
Upon receiving certification, a responder or survivor can submit a claim for compensation to the VCF for their 9/11-related health condition. However, they must first register to do so. If a 9/11 health condition was certified after July 29, 2019, a victim has two years from the date of the latest certification to register with the VCF. All claims must be filed by October 1, 2090.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 VCF Attorney who has an understanding of the eligibility requirements for the WTC Health Program and VCF can be confusing. A knowledgeable VCF attorney can help you navigate the Program’s enrollment process to help ensure you obtain the VCF compensation you deserve. 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 over a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.