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What Should 9/11 Responders and Survivors Know About the Zadroga Act?


If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor, you have likely heard of the “Zadroga Act.” However, it’s crucial to be aware of the protections it provides to members of the 9/11 community. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was signed into law in 2010 establishing two federal programs. The WTC Health Program helps ensure VCF responders and survivors obtain the healthcare they need, and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund issues the monetary compensation they deserve for their 9/11-related health conditions. 

The Act was reauthorized in 2015 and permanently extended in 2019 with the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.” Now, responders and survivors can be assured that they will be able to receive treatment for their 9/11 health conditions from the WTC Health Program for life. The Permanent Authorization Act also guarantees that the VCF is fully funded to pay all pending and future claims filed by October 1, 2090.        

What Are the Zadroga Act’s VCF Eligibility Requirements?

The Zadroga Act establishes the criteria for who can file a claim for compensation with the VCF. Specifically, a responder, survivor, or personal representative of a victim may be eligible for a VCF award if they meet the following requirements:

  • Location — To obtain compensation from the VCF, the Zadroga Act requires that 9/11 responders or survivors were present at a location within the NYC Exposure Zone. This is the area in lower Manhattan south of Canal Street, including Ground Zero and the area along the debris transportation and removal routes. Additionally, those who were present at the Pentagon or in Shanksville, Pennsylvania satisfy the location requirements.
  • Time Frame — Pursuant to the Zadroga Act, responders and survivors must prove that they were at any location in the NYC Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002.
  • 9/11- Related Health Condition — Hundreds of 9/11-related illnesses and health conditions are eligible for VCF compensation under the Zadroga Act. These include cancer, acute and traumatic injuries, aerodigestive disorders, and musculoskeletal conditions.   

Notably, responders and survivors who have enrolled with the WTC Health Program do not automatically qualify for a VCF award. Each entity has different eligibility criteria. However, a health condition must first be certified by the Program to file a VCF claim for compensation.

VCF Compensation Under the Zadroga Act

9/11 health conditions can be life-changing and affect a responder or survivor’s ability to work and participate in their daily activities. Under the Zadroga Act, 9/11 responders and survivors may be able to receive a non-economic loss award from the VCF up to $250,000 for a cancer condition and a maximum of $90,000 for a non-cancer. Significantly, the Act authorizes the VCF to prioritize claims for those with the most debilitating conditions.  

The Zadroga Act also allows the family members of a victim who passed away due to their 9/11 illness recover compensation by filing a VCF claim for wrongful death. In doing so, the victim’s spouse and dependents may be entitled to a non-economic loss award of $250,000 on behalf of the victim, plus $100,000 each. The family may also be eligible to receive an economic loss award for the victim’s lost wages and pension benefits if the 9/11 illness caused a reduction in income prior to their passing.        

Contact a 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney

If you are a 9/11 responder or survivor who has developed a 9/11 illness, disease, or health condition, it’s crucial to register with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to ensure you obtain the monetary recovery to which you’re entitled. However, the regulations, policies, and procedures can be confusing to navigate. It’s best to have the guidance of an experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney who can assist you with the claim filing process.

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. 


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