If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor and developed cancer or another disease linked to the toxic dust cloud, you need to be aware that you may be eligible to receive compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, it’s important to understand that in order to obtain an award from the VCF, you must first have your health condition certified by the WTC Health Program. This separate entity works closely with the VCF to help ensure eligible responders and survivors receive the monetary recovery they deserve for the economic and non-economic losses they suffered due to their 9/11-related illnesses.
What’s the Difference Between the VCF and WTC Health Program?
The VCF and the WTC Health Program are two distinct entities that serve different purposes. Specifically, the VCF was created under the Zadroga Act to issue monetary awards to responders and survivors who suffered 9/11-related illnesses. The WTC Health Program provides health monitoring and treatment to those who are eligible. Before you can file a claim with the VCF for your economic and non-economic losses, you must have your 9/11-related health condition certified by the Program.
Eligibility Criteria for the VCF and WTC Health Program
Although they work closely together, the VCF and WTC Health Program have separate eligibility criteria that must be met. The eligibility criteria for the Program must be satisfied before you can be eligible for compensation from the VCF. To be eligible to enroll in the WTC Health Program, you must belong to one of four groups:
- FDNY responders
- General responders
- Survivors who lived, worked, or went to school in the NYC Disaster Area
- Pentagon/Shanksville responders
Each group has different eligibility criteria based on the time frame and the amount of time they were present in the area defined by the WTC Health Program as the NYC Disaster Area. Notably, this geographic location is a different area from that which is designated as the VCF’s NYC Exposure Zone. The NYC Disaster Area encompasses south of Houston Street in Manhattan — and any block in Brooklyn that is wholly or partially within a 1.5-mile radius from Ground Zero. The VCF’s NYC Exposure Zone is any area south of Canal Street or along the debris removal routes.
Obtaining WTC Health Program Certification
Once you have established that you satisfy the WTC Health Program’s eligibility criteria, you must apply to become a member in order to obtain certification for your health condition. You will be required to submit documentation that provides proof of presence in the NYC Disaster Area, the reason you were there, the specific location, and the times you were present. If you are eligible to enroll, you will need to attend an initial health evaluation.
In the event you are diagnosed with a 9/11-related health condition, your Program doctor will sign certain paperwork to request that the WTC Health Program certify your health condition. The Program will review the paperwork and notify you in writing whether your condition has been certified. As soon as you receive certification, you can file a claim with the VCF.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you are a 9/11 responder or survivor, you may be eligible to receive a monetary award from the VCF. However, you must first obtain certification from the WTC Health Program for your 9/11-related health condition. It is essential to have a knowledgeable VCF attorney by your side who can guide you through the process of obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled.
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.