In the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, thousands of contract workers were involved in the rescue, recovery, and rebuilding efforts. Many other independent contractors may have worked at jobs within the NYC Exposure Zone in the weeks and months following 9/11. If you were a 1099, per diem, or gig worker who developed an illness due to inhaling the toxins in the 9/11 dust cloud, you might be eligible to receive medical care from the WTC Health Program — and a monetary award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
Are Independent Contractors Eligible for a VCF Award?
Many independent contractors who worked for Port Authority, the MTA, construction firms, or other agencies in the weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks may not be aware of their possible eligibility for an award from the VCF. However, any responders and survivors who satisfy the VCF’s eligibility criteria may be able to receive compensation for the economic and non-economic losses they suffered in connection with a 9/11 health condition.
To be eligible for a VCF award, an independent contractor must meet the following criteria:
- They must have an eligible 9/11-related illness
- The illness must have been certified by the WTC Health Program
- They must prove they were present in the NYC Exposure Zone
- They must have been present in the NYC Exposure Zone in the immediate aftermath of 9/11
Under the Zadroga Act, the “immediate aftermath” of 9/11 is defined as any date between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002.
In addition, it’s crucial to understand the difference between the VCF and the WTC Health Program. While a contract worker must obtain certification from the Program, this is a separate entity from the VCF that provides medical monitoring and treatment for responders and survivors who developed cancers, illnesses, and diseases as a result of inhaling the toxins in the NYC Exposure Zone. The two entities work together for the purpose of ensuring VCF claimants obtain the monetary recovery they deserve.
Registering with the VCF and Filing a Claim
In order for an eligible contract worker to receive a monetary award from the VCF, they must first register to file a claim. Importantly, the registration and claim filing processes are separate. Although the deadline to file a claim is October 1, 2090, the registration deadline can vary based on the date of WTC Health Program certification. While registration can be filed at any time, an independent contractor who was diagnosed with a 9/11-related illness has two years from the date of certification to register with the VCF.
To file a claim with the VCF, a number of documents are required. Critically, a claim form, signature page, medical records authorization, documentation establishing presence in the NYC Exposure Zone, Social Security Administration Consent form, and ACH payment form (or original client authorization) must be provided at a minimum in order for the VCF to commence a substantive review.
An eligible contract worker may be entitled to an award for their economic losses, in addition to their non-economic losses. Also referred to as a “pain and suffering” award, a non-economic loss is issued based on the type of health condition and its severity. Under the Zadroga Act, non-cancer conditions are awarded an amount between $10,000 and $90,000. Cancer conditions can be awarded $90,000 to $250,000.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you were a contract worker in the weeks or months following 9/11 and developed an illness linked to the toxic dust cloud, you may be entitled to receive an award from the VCF. However, navigating the regulations can be confusing and complicated. A 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney can guide you through the VCF registration and claims processes and help ensure you receive the maximum compensation payout to which you’re 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.