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When is VCF Compensation Awarded Above the Statutory Cap?


If you are a 9/11 responder or survivor with an eligible health condition, you might be eligible to receive compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Although the Zadroga Act caps awards at a certain amount, you might be entitled to a higher award in some cases. Under limited circumstances, the Special Master may issue compensation above the statutory cap.

How Does the VCF Award Compensation?

The VCF awards compensation to 9/11 responders and survivors who have been diagnosed with health conditions linked to the toxins in the dust cloud. In determining the award amount, the Special Master considers the harm to the claimant, the facts surrounding the claim, and the claimant’s individual circumstances. 

Typically, the VCF’s analysis considers:

  • Whether there was a demonstrable loss
  • Whether it can be reasonably concluded that the loss was caused by the 9/11 health condition
  • What award amount makes sense in the context of the claimant and their individual circumstances

After the VCF reviews your eligibility criteria, it will review your information — including the type of loss you are claiming. The VCF recognizes two types of losses: economic loss and non-economic loss, also known as “pain and suffering.” While economic loss considers things like lost earnings and benefits, the amount of non-economic loss is determined based on the severity of your condition and how it affects your daily life.  

What is the VCF’s Award Cap?

The Zadroga Act set specific limits on the amount of non-economic loss compensation that can be issued to responders and survivors. Critically, the amount of compensation is not linked to the number of conditions — but rather, the severity of each. Generally, the maximum amount of monetary recovery that can be obtained for a non-cancer condition is $90,000. Any one cancer condition may receive an award of up to $250,000. 

If a responder or survivor has more than one cancer condition, the Special Master may adjust the VCF award to compensate for multiple cancers, resulting in recovery above the $250,000 statutory cap. The Special Master may also award compensation beyond the cap if the claimant has been diagnosed with cancer, in addition to severe non-cancer conditions. The highest award the Special Master can issue for multiple severe conditions is $340,000 under the statutory guidelines.  

Compensation for Presumptively Severe Conditions 

Although $90,000 is the maximum award that can be issued for a non-cancer, many conditions are compensated at a lesser amount. However, for conditions that have been identified as presumptively severe, the Special Master has the authority to issue the highest amount of compensation allowable for a non-cancer condition. These conditions include emphysema, Interstitial Lung Disease, asbestosis, and sarcoidosis.

Non-cancer conditions that the VCF considers less severe include asthma, sinusitis, chronic bronchitis, GERD, COPD, various respiratory conditions, and traumatic injury or musculoskeletal disorder. While awards begin at $10,000 in connection with these types of illnesses, the VCF will consider medical records and other evidence demonstrating the severity of the condition to determine whether it warrants a higher award amount.   

Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney

If you’ve been diagnosed with a 9/11 health condition, you may be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may also be eligible to receive an award that is higher than the statutory cap. A 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney can help ensure you receive 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.


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