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How Do I Know if I’m Eligible for VCF Compensation?


The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was formed under the Zadroga Act to ensure responders and survivors who suffer from 9/11-related illnesses obtain the compensation they deserve. However, it’s important to understand that the VCF imposes specific requirements to qualify for a monetary award. To receive compensation for your economic losses and pain and suffering, you must meet the following four criteria: 

1. You are a 9/11 Responder or Survivor

To obtain compensation from the VCF, you must be a 9/11 responder or survivor. Responders can include firefighters, police officers, Con Edison workers, construction workers, sanitation workers, and others who aided in the rescue, recovery, demolition, and debris cleanup in the area defined as the NYC Exposure Zone. Survivors are those who lived, worked, or went to school in the area.                       

2. You Were Present in the NYC Exposure Zone  

The VCF has strict presence criteria that must be met. Specifically, to be eligible for a VCF award, you must have been present in the NYC Exposure Zone. This is the area surrounding Ground Zero in Manhattan south of Canal Street. The NYC Exposure Zone also includes the barges, bus depots, and Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island. 

Notably, the area defined as the NYC Exposure Zone is not to be confused with the World Trade Center’s Health Program, which starts at Houston Street and covers a 1.5-mile radius around Ground Zero.                                             

3. You Were in the NYC Exposure Zone in the Immediate Aftermath of 9/11

In addition to being present in the NYC Exposure Zone, you must have been there within the period defined as “the immediate aftermath” of the terrorist attacks. The Zadroga Act defines the “immediate aftermath” as any period between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002. There are no requirements regarding the minimum amount of time a responder or survivor must have spent there to prove presence.                                             

4. You Have a Certified 9/11-Related Health Condition

Significantly, to qualify for compensation from the VCF, you must have a 9/11-related health condition that has been certified by the WTC Health Program. The Program is a separate entity from the VCF and has its own distinct qualification criteria regarding presence, time frame, and the tasks or activities conducted. However, the VCF and WTC Health Program work together to ensure responders and survivors obtain the compensation to which they are entitled for their economic losses and pain and suffering. 

Certification is an official decision by the Program that a condition is related to 9/11 exposure. A wide range of health conditions are certified by the Program as 9/11-related, including:

  • All forms of cancer
  • Airway and digestive disorders
  • Acute and traumatic injuries
  • Musculoskeletal disorders 
  • Respiratory conditions

While the Program also covers mental health conditions in connection with the terrorist attacks, the VCF only compensates for physical illnesses. Responders and survivors must undergo a specific process to have their 9/11-related health condition certified.  

Contact an Experienced 9/11 VCF Attorney

Understanding the VCF eligibility criteria can be confusing. A knowledgeable VCF attorney can help you navigate the filing process and obtain the monetary award you deserve for your 9/11-related cancer, illness, or disease. 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.  


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