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Who Qualifies as a 9/11 Survivor?

9/11 Survivor

Hundreds of thousands of people were present in the NYC Exposure Zone in the weeks and months following the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks — and countless have been diagnosed with various health conditions and cancers due to inhaling the toxins. However, it’s vital to understand that you do not need to have been a first responder to receive compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Survivors are also eligible for compensation if they developed a 9/11-related cancer or other health condition. Here’s what you need to know about applying for a VCF award as a survivor.     

VCF 9/11 Survivor Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for VCF compensation as a survivor, you must satisfy the VCF’s requirements regarding presence, timeframe, and health condition. Specifically, under the Zadroga Act, you may be eligible for VCF compensation as a 9/11 survivor if you meet the following criteria:

  • You were present in the area defined as the NYC Exposure Zone at any time between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002;
  • You lived, worked, or attended school/daycare at a location within the NYC Exposure Zone between the statutory time period; and
  • You have been certified with an eligible 9/11 health condition by the WTC Health Program.   

If you are an eligible survivor, you may be entitled to recover an award from the VCF for both the economic and non-economic losses you incurred due to your 9/11-related health condition. Non-economic loss, also referred to as “pain and suffering,” is awarded in an amount between $10,000 and $90,000 for non-cancer conditions. Survivors diagnosed with a 9/11 cancer may receive up to $250,000 in non-economic loss.  

Providing Proof of Your Eligibility as a 9/11 Survivor

As a 9/11 survivor, you must submit certain documentation to the VCF to prove presence in the NYC Exposure Zone to support your claim. For survivors, the type of paperwork you must submit will depend on why you were there. If you lived in the NYC Exposure Zone, you may submit a copy of the lease or mortgage, utility bills, or proof of rent payment. Survivors who were students at the time can provide records of enrollment or attendance.

For survivors who worked in the area, various documents can be used to prove their presence. For instance, you may be able to provide a letter from the employer, a copy of the official personnel roster, or pay stubs that show the employer’s address. In the event the relevant employment documentation no longer exists, you may be able to submit a third-party verification form completed by your employer. When no other documents are available or can be found, a witness presence statement can provide the details needed to establish presence.     

In addition to providing proof of presence, you must have your condition certified as eligible by the WTC Health Program. The Program certifies a wide array of 9/11-related illnesses, including aerodigestive disorders, respiratory conditions, musculoskeletal disorders, and all types of cancer. While the two programs work closely together to ensure eligible survivors obtain compensation for their 9/11-related illnesses, it’s essential to be aware that the WTC Health Program has different eligibility criteria than the VCF. 

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

If you are a 9/11 survivor who has been diagnosed with a 9/11-related health condition, you may be eligible to receive compensation from the VCF. However, the process of filing a claim can be confusing, stressful, and overwhelming. It is critical to have the representation of an attorney who can help ensure that you receive the maximum 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 over a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today. 


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