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What are the VCF’s Presence Requirements to File a Claim for Compensation?


The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was established to ensure that every eligible responder and survivor obtain the monetary recovery they deserve for their 9/11-related health conditions. However, an individual must meet strict criteria in order to receive a VCF award. Not only do responders and survivors have to obtain certification for their conditions from the WTC Health Program, but there are also presence requirements that must be satisfied.  

The VCF’s Location Requirements

To be eligible to receive compensation from the VCF, a responder or survivor must have been present within the NYC Exposure Zone. This includes Ground Zero, the debris routes, bus depots, the barges, the Fresh Kills landfill, and all of lower Manhattan in the area south of Canal Street. In addition, those who were morgue workers or staff members of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner may satisfy the presence requirements if they meet the time frame criteria — even if their actual work was performed outside of the VCF’s NYC Exposure Zone.

It’s crucial to be aware that the VCF’s location requirements are different from those of the WTC Health Program. For the purpose of qualifying for health monitoring and treatment, the area the Program defines as the “NYC Disaster Area” is more expansive than the VCF’s Exposure Zone. In accordance with the Program’s criteria, an individual must have been present in the area of Manhattan south of Houston Street or in any part of Brooklyn encompassing a 1.5 mile radius of Ground Zero.

The VCF’s Statutory Time Frame

Under the Zadroga Act, a responder or survivor must have been present within the NYC Exposure Zone within a certain time frame. Specifically, the statute requires that an individual must have spent time in the area in the “immediate aftermath” of the terrorist attacks. This time period is defined as any time between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002.

Unlike the WTC Health Program’s criteria, the VCF does not have a requirement regarding a minimum amount of time that must have been spent in the Exposure Zone. The VCF does not specify that any specific activity was performed. Survivors who lived, worked, or went to school in the area may file a claim, as well as responders who aided in the rescue, recovery, and cleanup efforts.

Documentation Needed to Prove Presence

The VCF requires that responders and survivors submit specific documentation to prove their presence when filing a claim. Although certain employers, such as the FDNY, will provide this information directly to the VCF, others may need to provide the following to prove their presence:

  • Sworn witness statements
  • Employer or third-party verification
  • School or employment records
  • Personal statement
  • Paystubs
  • Rental agreement or utility bills
  • Mortgage receipts

Failure to submit the necessary documentation to establish presence can result in your claim potentially being denied. Depending on the circumstances, the VCF may send a “Missing Information Letter” after you have submitted your claim package. This can allow you an opportunity to ensure the VCF has the necessary information to issue the award to which you are rightfully entitled.

Contact a New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney

If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor, you may be entitled to receive an award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, it’s important to ensure that you provide sufficient proof of presence and that your claim is filed correctly. It’s essential to have the guidance of a skilled 9/11 VCF attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

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 more than a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.


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