Respiratory illnesses are among the most common 9/11-related health conditions diagnosed in responders and survivors. These types of diseases can range from mild to severe and impact various aspects of a person’s life and livelihood. If you suffer from a respiratory illness linked to the toxic dust cloud, you may be entitled to a monetary award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for your economic and non-economic losses.
Here are five things you should know about filing a VCF claim for a 9/11 respiratory illness:
1. The VCF Recognizes a Wide Range of Respiratory Illnesses as Eligible for Compensation
The toxins in the 9/11 dust cloud that covered lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks caused a variety of respiratory illnesses in responders and survivors. Under the Zadroga Act, many diseases affecting the lungs and airways are recognized by the VCF as eligible for a monetary award. These include asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), reactive airway dysfunction syndrome (RADS), interstitial lung disease, sleep apnea, and many others.
2. Your Condition Must Be Certified by the WTC Health Program
Before you can file a claim with the VCF for your 9/11-related respiratory illness, the WTC Health Program must first certify your condition. This entity is separate from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. It certifies eligible health conditions and provides medical treatment for responders and survivors. However, the two programs work closely together to ensure those eligible receive the compensation they deserve for their 9/11 health conditions.
3. You Only Have a Limited Amount of Time to Register with the VCF After Being Certified
After your respiratory condition has been certified by the WTC Health Program as being linked to the toxic dust cloud, you only have a limited amount of time to register with the VCF. Importantly, you must first register to file a claim — but while registration preserves your right to submit a claim, it does not obligate you to do so. You have two years from the date the WTC Health Program certified your condition to register with the VCF. This is not to be confused with the claim filing deadline, which is October 1, 2090.
4. You May Be Entitled to Receive an Award for Your Economic and Non-Economic Losses
A VCF award for a respiratory illness comes in two parts — you may be eligible to receive compensation for both your economic and non-economic losses. The economic loss portion of a VCF award compensates for loss of earnings and benefits, as well as out-of-pocket medical costs. A non-economic loss award is meant to compensate for the impact the 9/11 respiratory illness had on your life. The amount is based on the severity of the condition and can range from $10,000 to $90,000.
5. Some Respiratory Illnesses are Considered Presumptively Severe, Allowing a Higher Award Amount
The Special Master may issue a higher award amount in cases where a responder or survivor has been diagnosed with a condition that is “presumptively severe.” These conditions are the types that have a consistently severe impact on a victim’s quality of life. Presumptively severe illnesses affecting the lungs and respiratory tract include emphysema, asbestosis, sarcoidosis, and interstitial lung disease. The VCF may issue the highest allowable amount for a non-cancer condition in these instances.
Other conditions considered presumptively less severe and typically receive a lower amount — unless medical documentation demonstrates otherwise — can include asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic cough, and rhinosinusitis.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you developed a 9/11 respiratory illness, you may be eligible to receive compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, the process of filing a claim can be confusing, and it’s best to have an experienced 9/11 VCF attorney by your side to help ensure you obtain the maximum amount of compensation to which you are 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.