The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was created by an Act of Congress to provide monetary recovery for eligible responders and survivors who suffered illnesses as a result of being in the NYC Exposure Zone after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The VCF recognizes various illnesses and conditions as eligible for compensation, including all forms of cancers, aerodigestive disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory illnesses, and traumatic injuries.
A VCF awards come in two parts: economic loss and non-economic loss. The VCF not only awards compensation for lost wages, benefits, and monetary losses — but also for the impact a 9/11-related health condition may have had on a responder or survivor’s life. However, to be awarded compensation from the VCF, a 9/11-related health condition must first be certified by the WTC Health Program.
VCF Economic Loss Awards
9/11-related health conditions can be severe and debilitating. In many cases, a responder or survivor may require extensive medical treatment and no longer be able to work. A VCF economic loss award addresses the financial losses an eligible responder or survivor has incurred due to suffering from a 9/11-related health condition and can include:
- Loss of income
- Lost benefits
- Replacement services loss
Additionally, families who have lost loved ones to a 9/11-related illness may also be entitled to an economic loss award by filing a deceased claim. Not only can an award in a deceased claim compensate for the victim’s lost income or benefits, but the award can also include burial or memorial service expenses.
If you are claiming economic loss, the VCF will consider documentation from the Social Security Administration, your employer, Workers’ Compensation, and the FDNY or NYPD, if applicable in your case. The documents can provide information regarding your earnings history, disability payments, and pension to allow the VCF to render a determination as to the total amount of economic loss. Critically, if any documentation is missing, the VCF will only issue an award for non-economic loss.
VCF Non-Economic Loss Awards
An award for non-economic loss, also called “pain and suffering,” is typically the easiest for the VCF to calculate. Non-economic loss does not compensate you for pecuniary losses. Instead, it is meant to be monetary compensation for the following suffered in connection with your 9/11-related illness:
- Physical pain and impairment
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of society and companionship
- Loss of consortium
Although the award amount can vary significantly based on the severity of a responder or survivor’s health condition, non-economic loss awards are capped by the Zadroga Act. The maximum award for a non-cancer condition is typically $90,000, while the payout for cancer can be up to $250,000. In some cases, the Special Master may make an exception and issue an award above the statutory cap if there are multiple cancers, or a cancer and a severe non-cancer condition.
Families who have lost loved ones due to a 9/11-related illness are also entitled to receive compensation for non-economic loss from the VCF. Under the Zadroga Act, $250,000 may be issued on behalf of the victim. In addition, $100,000 may be awarded on account of the victim’s spouse and each dependent.
Although responders and survivors who meet the eligibility criteria may receive medical treatment for their 9/11-related health condition through the WTC Health Program, out-of-pocket expenses may still be incurred in connection with treatment. The VCF does not reimburse these expenses as part of the initial economic loss claim submission. However, responders and survivors can file an amendment once they have incurred $5,000 or more in out-of-pocket expenses.
The VCF does not compensate for travel to and from medical appointments, including gas or hotel stays. But many other costs will be reimbursed such as those associated with doctor visits, testing, surgical procedures, and medical equipment. Future or anticipated medical treatment is not compensated by the VCF.
Contact a New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you are a responder or survivor who developed a 9/11-related health condition — or lost a loved one to a 9/11-related illness — you may be entitled to compensation from the VCF. But you mustn’t delay registering with the VCF to file your claim — the earliest registration deadline is fast approaching on July 29.
An experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney can help ensure you obtain the compensation you deserve for your 9/11-related health condition. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has successfully represented claimants and their families in 9/11 VCF claims for over a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.