The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was established by an act of Congress to ensure responders and survivors obtain the monetary recovery they deserve for their 9/11-related cancers and illnesses. Under the Zadroga Act, responders and survivors may be entitled to compensation for their economic and non-economic losses if they can prove they were present in the NYC Exposure Zone and have a WTC Health Program-certified health condition. The monetary awards are determined on an individual basis for each claimant.
VCF Economic Loss Awards
The VCF recognizes that a 9/11 illness can have a significant impact on a responder or survivor and their ability to work. The VCF issues economic loss awards for the financial losses suffered by those who developed health conditions linked to the toxic dust cloud. To calculate an economic loss award, the VCF first looks at whether there was a compensable loss.
Specifically, in calculating economic loss, the VCF will determine whether a responder or survivor experienced the following:
- Loss of earnings or employment benefits — The VCF will consider a responder or survivor’s lost wages, loss of pension, loss of retirement benefits, and loss of health benefits due to their eligible health condition.
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses — While the WTC Health Program provides free medical monitoring and treatment for responders and survivors, claimants may be reimbursed for past out-of-pocket medical expenses connected to their 9/11 cancer or illness. The VCF will evaluate such costs by amendment once they exceed $5,000.
- Replacement services loss — The VCF will consider the costs of replacement services for chores and housekeeping a victim can no longer perform due to their 9/11 illness.
These types of economic losses must be supported by the necessary proof and documentation. If proof of economic loss is not submitted in a timely manner, the VCF may issue an award for non-economic loss only. In such cases, the VCF may reconsider an economic loss award by amendment.
VCF Non-Economic Loss Awards
A VCF non-economic loss award is meant to compensate responders and survivors for their physical pain and emotional suffering. These awards are typically the easiest to calculate, as the amounts are specified by the Zadroga Act. Each award is issued based on the severity of a responder or survivor’s health condition rather than the number of illnesses they have linked to the dust cloud.
A non-cancer condition — including respiratory illnesses and aerodigestive disorders — can be awarded an amount between $10,000 and $90,000. While the Special Master considers conditions such as asthma, GERD, and sleep apnea to be less severe and debilitating, warranting a lower award, the amount can increase depending on the severity documented in a claimant’s medical records. However, the VCF recognizes certain non-cancer conditions as being “presumptively severe,” including emphysema, lung disease, asbestosis, and sarcoidosis. These types of conditions typically are awarded at the highest allowable amount.
Cancers are awarded in an amount ranging between $90,000 and $250,000, based on the severity of the condition and the impact on the claimant’s life. Although non-economic awards are capped by statute, the Special Master may exceed the cap in limited circumstances where a claimant suffered from more than one eligible cancer condition or was diagnosed with a severe non-cancer condition along with a cancer condition.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 VCF Attorney
If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor, you might be entitled to compensation for any health condition you developed in connection with the 9/11 dust cloud. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. works with responders and survivors to help ensure they receive the award to which they are entitled for their economic and non-economic losses.
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.