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How Does the VCF Determine if You Have an Eligible Health Condition?

Health Condition

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund seeks to ensure that all eligible responders and survivors receive the monetary recovery to which they’re entitled for their 9/11-related illnesses. However, it’s essential to understand that the VCF has specific criteria for determining whether you qualify for compensation. While you must be certified with a physical health condition by the WTC Health Program, other eligibility requirements must be met.

You Must Qualify as a Responder of Survivor

Before you can recover compensation for your 9/11-related health condition, you must establish your eligibility as a responder or survivor. To qualify as a responder, you must have aided in the rescue, recovery, debris removal, or demolition efforts in the NYC Exposure Zone. Those who meet the criteria of a survivor must have lived, worked, or went to school in the area.

You Must Meet the Presence Criteria

The Zadroga Act sets forth specific presence criteria for responders and survivors. You must be able to show that you were present in the NYC Exposure Zone. This is the area surrounding Ground Zero in Manhattan south of Canal Street. It also includes the barges, debris removal routes, bus depots, and Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island. Importantly, the geographical area defined by the VCF as the NYC Exposure Zone is different from the WTC Health Program’s Disaster Area.

In addition to having been in the NYC Exposure Zone, you must have been present there in the “immediate aftermath” of the terrorist attacks. This is the time frame defined by the statute as any period between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002. Notably, the WTC Health Program has different criteria from the VCF regarding presence time frames.

Your Health Condition Must Be Certified by the WTC Health Program

In order to be eligible to receive compensation from the VCF, you must have been diagnosed with a physical health condition in connection with inhaling the toxins in the 9/11 dust cloud. The VCF provides monetary awards for the injuries, illnesses, and diseases that the WTC Health Program found to be related to 9/11 — and it relies on certification from the Program to establish eligibility.

Presumptively covered conditions that may be certified by the WTC Health Program can include the following:

  • All forms of cancer
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Asthma
  • Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome
  • COPD
  • Chronic cough syndrome
  • Upper airway hyperreactivity
  • Chronic rhinosinusitis and nasopharyngitis
  • Chronic laryngitis
  • GERD
  • Sleep apnea
  • Lower back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Acute traumatic injuries

Significantly, the WTC Health Program imposes specific minimum and maximum timeframes between a responder or survivor’s 9/11 exposure and the onset of symptoms related to a physical injury or health condition.

If your condition is certified for treatment by the WTC Health Program, the VCF will typically find that the condition is eligible for compensation — as long as the other criteria, including presence, are established. If the WTC Health Program did not treat you, you must still seek certification through it to receive an award from the VCF. In limited situations, the VCF will allow a responder or survivor to use the Private Physician process, subject to the approval of the Special Master and the WTC Health Program Administrator.

Contact an Experienced New York 9/11 VCF Attorney

If you are a responder or survivor who suffers from a 9/11 illness, you may be entitled to compensation from the VCF. It’s crucial to have a knowledgeable VCF attorney who can help you navigate the claims process and ensure you obtain the maximum award to which you are entitled. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C., have been providing reliable representation to claimants and their families in 9/11 VCF claims for over a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.


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