If you are a 9/11 responder or survivor who suffers from an illness linked to the toxic dust cloud, you might be entitled to compensation from The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, before the VCF looks at your claim, the WTC Health Program must certify your health condition. While the Program is separate from the VCF, the two entities work closely together to help ensure those eligible receive the compensation to which they are entitled.
Determine Whether You Meet the Program’s Eligibility Criteria
The first step that must be taken to obtain WTC Health Program certification is ensuring you satisfy the eligibility criteria. This is different from the VCF’s requirements. Specifically, the WTC Health Program serves four groups:
- FDNY responders
- General responders
- Survivors who lived, worked, or went to school in the area
- Pentagon/Shanksville responders
If you fall into one of these groups, you will also need to meet the WTC Health Program’s presence criteria. Each group has specific eligibility criteria that must be met based on the time period and the amount of time they were in the geographic location defined by the WTC Health Program as the NYC Disaster Area.
Apply to the WTC Health Program
Once you have determined you are an eligible responder or survivor, the next step to getting your 9/11-related health condition certified by the WTC Health Program is applying to become a member. You will need to submit documentation that establishes the reason for your presence in the NYC Disaster Area, your location, and the times you were present. The Program will review your application once it receives it and send you a letter in the mail advising you whether you are eligible for enrollment. If you were denied, you may be able to appeal the decision. The Program will contact you if it requires additional information to process your application.
Attend Your Initial Health Evaluation
After you have been accepted into the WTC Health Program, you must make an appointment for an initial health evaluation. These evaluations are held at the Program’s Clinical Centers of Excellence throughout the New York metropolitan area. However, if you live outside New York, you can seek an evaluation through the Nationwide Provider Network.
During your health evaluation, you will be required to fill out a questionnaire about your medical history and take an assessment regarding your 9/11 exposure. The provider will run tests, discuss your health information, and assess whether you have any possible 9/11-related health conditions. Usually, a health evaluation involves a physical exam, checking your vital signs, and conducting breathing and blood tests. If you meet certain guidelines, the provider may also take chest X-rays, an EKG, and urine tests.
Obtain Certification for Your Condition
The WTC Health Program certifies a wide range of 9/11-related health conditions, which are also eligible for VCF compensation. These include all forms of cancer, aerodigestive conditions, respiratory illnesses, and musculoskeletal disorders. If your illness is on the list of WTC-related health conditions; your 9/11 exposure is substantially likely to have been a factor in causing, aggravating, or contributing to the condition; and you meet the eligibility criteria, your condition can be certified.
Your Program doctor will sign certain paperwork, referred to as the WTC-3 Certification Package, to request that the WTC Health Program certify your health condition. The Program will review the paperwork upon receipt to determine whether your illness can be certified. You will be notified in writing regarding the Program’s decision. As soon as your condition has been certified, you will be eligible for treatment and monitoring with the WTC Health Program — and you can file a claim for a VCF award.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you are a 9/11 responder or survivor, you may be entitled to compensation from the VCF. However, you must first obtain certification from the WTC Health Program for your 9/11-related illness. It is critical to have the representation of a knowledgeable VCF attorney who can help you guide you through the process of obtaining the VCF award 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.