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What’s the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Evidence of Presence?

Evidence of Presence

If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor who suffers from a health condition linked to the toxic dust cloud, you may be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, one of the requirements to obtain an award from the VCF is proving presence in the NYC Exposure Zone. In order to establish presence, you may provide the VCF with either primary or secondary evidence.

What Is Primary Evidence?

There are two types of primary evidence documentation that can be used to prove presence in the NYC Exposure Zone. These include third-party verification of presence and contemporaneous documents. It’s important to understand the difference between these types of evidence when you are preparing to submit your VCF claim.

Third-Party Verification of Presence

Third-party verification of presence is sent directly to the VCF from an employer or another third party with the specific dates and locations of your presence. While some employers and volunteer organizations have a relationship with the VCF, others can provide presence information by completing and submitting a third-party verification form directly to the VCF.

However, the VCF may ask for additional proof of presence — even if your employer or volunteer organization provides a third-party verification form. For instance, the completed form might not provide sufficient detail regarding presence or specify the source of information used to complete the form. In such instances, the VCF will contact the organization to obtain more details. In the event the VCF cannot confirm presence by speaking with the employer, you will be contacted to explain what additional documents are needed.

Contemporaneous Documents

In contrast with third-party verification, contemporaneous documents were created in the ordinary course of business at any time between September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002. Depending on your employment and the reason for your presence, contemporaneous documents can include:

  • Official personnel roster
  • Pay stubs listing the employer’s address in the NYC Exposure Zone
  • Responder dispatch records
  • Union shop steward records
  • Worker’s injury reports
  • Police memo book

Contemporaneous documents to support presence based on residence in the NYC Exposure Zone can include a rental agreement, mortgage receipts, utility bills, court orders that show your address at the time, and medical records that show your home address. Documentation to support presence for those who were in school or daycare in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks can include transcripts confirming enrollment along with a letter from the school employee or your attorney.

What is Secondary Evidence of Presence?

Although it is best to submit primary evidence, such as third-party verification or contemporaneous documents, the VCF recognizes that these documents may no longer exist, or they can be impossible to obtain. If you cannot provide the VCF with primary evidence to show your presence, the Special Master will consider sworn witness statements from individuals who can attest to your presence in the NYC Exposure Zone.

If you will be using witness presence statements as the only proof of your presence, you must submit statements from a minimum of two people, with at least one not being related to you. The VCF will not contact the individual who completed the witness presence statement if it determines it lacks the required level of detail. Rather, the VCF will call the individual if an inconsistency needs to be clarified or the information must be verified. In the event a witness presence statement lacks the required level of detail, your claim may be denied — or you will be sent a “missing information letter” to which you must respond.

Contact an Experienced 9/11 VCF Attorney

If you were diagnosed with a health condition related to 9/11, you may be eligible to receive an award from the VCF. However, it’s essential to provide adequate proof of presence to avoid delay or denial of your claim. An experienced VCF attorney can guide you through the process of filing a claim and assist you with obtaining 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 over a decade. For a free consultation, contact ustoday.


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