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What Does the VCF Define as an Eligible Health Condition?

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The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was established to ensure every responder and survivor obtains the compensation they deserve for their 9/11-related illnesses. However, if you aided in the rescue, recovery or cleanup efforts at Ground Zero or in the NYC Exposure Zone — or you lived in the area — you might be wondering what health conditions qualify. The VCF imposes strict criteria regarding eligibility to receive an award, and it’s essential to be aware of the conditions that qualify for compensation. 

Health Conditions Recognized by the VCF

In order to be eligible for compensation from the VCF, a responder or survivor must have suffered “physical harm or death as a result of” the 9/11 terrorist attacks or debris removal. While the WTC Health Program treats mental health conditions, the VCF only compensates for physical illnesses, injuries, diseases, or conditions.

The list of presumptively covered health conditions includes but is not limited to the following:

  • All forms of cancer
  • Acute traumatic injuries
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Chronic respiratory disorder
  • Obstructive airways disease
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
  • Sleep apnea
  • Upper airway hyperreactivity
  • Asthma
  • Chronic rhinosinusitis

Importantly, each type of health condition has specific minimum and maximum time frames between an individual’s exposure to the toxic dust and their onset of symptoms. For instance, every type of cancer has a minimum latency period — this is the time period that has elapsed between the exposure and the date of diagnosis. The WTC Health Program has also determined maximum time intervals for four out of the five categories of aerodigestive disorders, based on the last day of an individual’s 9/11 exposure and the earliest date of the individual’s symptoms. There is no maximum time interval for interstitial lung disease.

The VCF awards up to $90,000 for non-cancer conditions and a maximum of $250,000 for a cancer condition. The award is not determined by the number of conditions, but rather by the severity of each. In limited cases, the Special Master may issue an award amount above the statutory cap.  

The WTC Health Program Certification Process

The VCF will only issue awards for health conditions that have been certified by the WTC Health Program. Significantly, certification can only occur if a doctor who works for the Program determines that a health condition meets the time and presence criteria, as well as the minimum latency requirements. The doctor must also find that the illness was caused or exacerbated by exposure to the dust cloud — and the condition is on the list of WTC-Related Health Conditions. 

Once a WTC Health Program physician determines that your condition is certifiable, a certification package must be completed to formally request certification. The Program will then review your paperwork to determine whether the condition can be certified. Notification regarding the decision will be provided in writing. 

It’s crucial to understand that to obtain certification for a 9/11-related health condition, there are a number of steps that must be followed. Notably, a responder or survivor must first enroll with the WTC Health Program. They must then attend a health evaluation at a Clinical Center of Excellence or with a provider available through the Nationwide Provider Network. While the WTC Health Program is separate from the VCF, the two entities work together for the purpose of ensuring responders and survivors secure the compensation they are entitled.

Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney

A 9/11 health condition can take a toll on you and your family. If you have been diagnosed with an eligible 9/11-related health condition, you may be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. A knowledgeable VCF attorney can help ensure you secure the monetary award that is rightfully yours.

 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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