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What to Know About Filing a Claim for 9/11 Cancer


Tragically, cancer is one of the most common 9/11-related diseases faced by responders and survivors. Due to inhaling the carcinogens in the dust cloud that covered lower Manhattan in the weeks following the terrorist attacks, those who were present in the NYC Exposure Zone continue to develop various forms of cancer — even two decades later. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund recognizes the physical, emotional, and financial impact a 9/11-related cancer can have on a responder or survivor and awards compensation to those who satisfy the eligibility criteria.

Here’s what you should know about filing a claim for 9/11 cancer:          

You Can File a 9/11 Cancer Claim Whether You are a Responder or Survivor

VCF compensation isn’t limited to first responders. Responders who arrived to assist with the debris removal and clean-up efforts at any time in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks may be entitled to compensation if they’ve been diagnosed with a 9/11-related cancer or health condition. In addition, survivors who lived, worked, or attended school in lower Manhattan may also be eligible for a monetary award from the VCF. 

Importantly, responders and survivors must meet three criteria to file a VCF claim for 9/11 cancer:

  • They must have been present in the geographical area defined by the VCF as the NYC Exposure Zone, south of Canal Street and along the debris removal route.
  • They must have been present in the NYC Exposure Zone in the period specified by the Zadroga Act as the “immediate aftermath” of 9/11, between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002.     
  • They must have been diagnosed with a 9/11-related cancer that was certified by the WTC Health Program.

It’s vital to be aware that the eligibility criteria for the VCF and the WTC Health Program are different. However, it is necessary to first obtain certification from the WTC Health Program for a cancer condition before a VCF claim can be filed.                   

The VCF Compensates All Forms of Cancer

The toxic dust cloud that covered lower Manhattan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks contained more than 2,500 chemicals — and exposure to these contaminants resulted in responders and survivors developing various forms of cancer. All forms of 9/11 cancer may qualify for compensation by the VCF, including the following: 

  • Leukemia 
  • Blood cancers
  • Female and male breast cancer
  • Childhood cancers
  • Cancers of the digestive system
  • Lung cancer
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rare cancers
  • Respiratory system cancers
  • Urinary system cancers
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Soft tissue cancers
  • Skin cancers
  • Mesothelioma

Critically, certain types of cancer can take years or decades to develop. The WTC Health Program has assigned a minimum latency period to each type of cancer, ranging from .4 years for leukemia to 11 years for mesothelioma from the date of exposure. 

You May Be Entitled to Obtain an Award for Your Economic and Non-Economic Losses

A VCF award consists of two parts — economic losses and non-economic losse. Economic loss is meant to compensate a survivor or responder for the financial impact their 9/11 cancer condition had on their life and livelihood. For instance, an economic loss award can include compensation for lost wages, future lost earnings, loss of pensions, and out-of-pocket costs. Non-economic loss is meant to compensate for the physical pain and suffering experienced in connection with the cancer condition.                                                                              

Under the Zadroga Act, cancers are awarded the highest amount of compensation for non-economic loss. While non-cancers are awarded up to $90,000, a survivor or responder may receive up to $250,000 if they have been diagnosed with a 9/11-related cancer. The amount awarded is based on the severity of the condition. Although awards are typically capped at this amount, the Special Master may exceed the statutory cap in cases involving multiple cancers.               

Contact an Experienced New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Attorney

If you’re a responder or survivor who was diagnosed with 9/11-related cancer, you may be eligible to obtain a monetary award from the VCF. However, the VCF’s rules and procedures can be confusing to navigate, and it’s essential to have a knowledgeable 9/11 VCF attorney on your side to ensure you secure the compensation to which you’re 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 more than a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.


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