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Compensation for Workers along the 9/11 Debris Removal Route — What You Need to Know

Debris Removal Route

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund has specific presence criteria that must be met for a responder or survivor to be eligible for a monetary award for their 9/11-related illness. However, it’s important to understand that you do not need to have been at Ground Zero to meet the VCF’s eligibility requirements. Under the Zadroga Act, anyone who was present in the geographical area designated as the NYC Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, may qualify to recover their economic and non-economic losses. This includes those who worked along the debris removal route and developed 9/11 health conditions linked to the toxic dust. 

What Is the Debris Removal Route?

To establish your eligibility for an award from the VCF, you must be able to show that you were present at any location in the NYC Exposure Zone within the statutory time frame. This area encompasses Ground Zero and the surrounding part of Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street. Notably, a responder who worked along the debris removal route can also satisfy the criteria for presence in the NYC Exposure Zone. The “debris removal route” includes any area related to or along the roads that trucks took to transport WTC debris, as well as waste removal barges and the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island.  

The VCF recently updated its resources to provide additional guidance regarding debris removal eligibility. For the purposes of proving presence to file a VCF claim, the routes of debris removal only apply to individuals who: 

  • Loaded or unloaded trucks containing WTC debris
  • Drove trucks containing WTC debris
  • Worked on the barges transporting WTC debris
  • Worked at the Fresh Kills landfill

Notably, the WTC Health Program has different criteria from the VCF that must be met in order for a responder to obtain a health screening and treatment for a 9/11-related health condition. The Program does not use the geographical parameters of the VCF’s NYC Exposure Zone for its eligibility criteria. Rather, a responder must have been present in the “New York City Disaster Area” — this is defined as the area south of Houston Street in Manhattan and any block in Brooklyn wholly or partially within a 1.5-mile radius from Ground Zero. Although the two programs are separate, responders who worked along the debris routes must first obtain certification for their 9/11 illness from the Program. 

VCF Compensation for Responders Who Worked Along the Debris Removal Route

If you’re a responder who worked along the debris removal route, on the barges, or at the Fresh Kills landfill and developed a 9/11-related illness, you may be entitled to compensation from the VCF. The VCF issues awards to eligible claimants for the economic losses and non-economic losses they have suffered in connection with a 9/11 cancer, respiratory condition, aerodigestive disorder, or musculoskeletal disorder. While economic loss is meant to compensate for pecuniary losses such as lost wages, benefits, or out-of-pocket costs, non-economic loss is awarded to compensate for the impact a 9/11 health condition had on a claimant’s life.

Non-economic loss is also referred to as “pain and suffering.” These awards are issued in the amount of $10,000 to $90,000 for non-cancer conditions. A claimant may receive up to $250,000 in compensation for cancer. These are the highest award amounts that are permitted under the Zadroga Act. The Special Master may exceed the statutory threshold in limited cases where a claimant has been diagnosed with multiple cancer conditions — or cancer and multiple severe non-cancer conditions.

Contact an Experienced New York City 9/11 VCF Attorney

If you are a 9/11 responder who worked along the debris removal routes, you may be eligible to receive an award from the VCF. However, navigating the VCF’s claim filing procedures can often be confusing and overwhelming. It is essential to have the representation of a skillful VCF attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that you receive the maximum 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.   


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