Proving presence in the NYC Exposure Zone is one of the most important components when it comes to establishing your eligibility for compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Although there are a number of documents that can be used to show proof of presence — including employment verification, medical records, union records, or school records — these documents may no longer be available. In such cases, the VCF allows a victim to submit a Witness Presence Statement to support their claim.
What Updates Were Made to the Witness Presence Statement Form?
A witness presence statement can be essential for a victim to prove their presence in lower Manhattan in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In some cases, other records that can show presence may no longer exist because they were lost over time. A witness presence statement is completed by a person who has first-hand knowledge that the victim was present at a location in the NYC Exposure Zone at some point in the days, weeks, or months after September 11, 2001.
In November, the VCF updated the Claimant Instructions Page and the Witness Presence Statement Form to include the following:
- Age requirement for witnesses — A victim must have been at least 18 years old at the time of September 11, 2001, to complete the form.
- The exception to the age requirement — The VCF allows an exception for victims who were in high school at the time the witness presence statement is submitted, and who are submitting the form on behalf of a fellow high school student.
- Witness date of birth field — The witness must provide the month, date, and year of their birth.
The VCF requires that the Witness Presence Statement be used as the template for any affidavits to establish presence in the NYC Exposure Zone. In the event you received a Missing Information Letter from the VCF asking for additional affidavits or more detailed ones, you should submit a new affidavit using the Witness Presence Statement as a guide. You should not re-submit an affidavit that has already been submitted.
How Can a Witness Presence Statement Help You Prove Presence for a VCF Claim?
Many employers provide presence documentation to the VCF. But if you cannot obtain this information from your employer or elsewhere, it may be necessary to submit a Witness Presence Statement. There are strict criteria under the Zadroga Act to establish presence in the area designated the NYC Exposure Zone. A responder or survivor must be able to prove that they were present at a location in Manhattan south of Canal Street, or along the debris routes between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002.
In a Witness Presence Statement, the individual attesting to having personal knowledge of a responder or survivor’s presence must specify how they know the victim and for how long, as well as whether they actually saw the victim at a location in the NYC Exposure Zone. They must also provide a detailed description of the victim’s activity in the area, and provide the specific dates and locations of their presence. Stating that a victim was present at Ground Zero is not considered sufficient — the VCF requires the victim’s specific location and the dates they were there.
Contact a New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you were present in a location south of Canal Street between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, you may be entitled to VCF compensation. Navigating the VCF claims process can be confusing and frustrating. It is important to have a 9/11 VCF attorney on your side who can fight for your rights and ensure that you receive the maximum 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.