If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor, you might be eligible to receive compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund if you developed an illness linked to the toxins in the dust cloud. However, there are many misconceptions surrounding VCF claims, eligibility, and registration. Before filing your VCF claim, it’s crucial to be informed about the facts to ensure you know what to expect throughout the process — and you can obtain the monetary recovery you rightfully deserve for your 9/11-related health condition.
Misconception #1: The VCF Only Compensates Responders
The VCF awards compensation to both responders and survivors. Responders include those who aided in the rescue, recovery, and cleanup efforts, such as the FDNY, EMS workers, NYPD, Con Edison, sanitation workers, the National Guard, medical personnel, and many others. The VCF defines 9/11 survivors as anyone who lived, worked, or went to school within the NYC Exposure Zone during the time period specified under the Zadroga Act — September 11, 2001 through May 30, 2002.
Misconception #2: If You Enroll in the WTC Health Program, You Are Registered to File a VCF Claim
While the two programs work together, the VCF and the WTC Health Program are separate entities. Although obtaining certification for your 9/11 health condition from the WTC Health Program is a prerequisite to filing a claim with the VCF, there are different eligibility criteria for each. Importantly, you must still register with the VCF — as well as file a VCF claim — if you have enrolled in the WTC Health Program.
Misconception #3: You Can File a Claim Without Registering
It’s imperative to be aware that in order to file a claim with the VCF, you must first register to do so. If you fail to timely register with the VCF, you might be forever barred from obtaining compensation for your 9/11-related illness. Additionally, the claim filing deadline and the registration deadline are not the same — while everyone has until October 1, 2090 to file a claim, the earliest registration deadline is July 29, 2021.
Misconception #4: If You’re Not Sick, You Shouldn’t Register
Regardless of whether you have a 9/11-related health condition, you can still register with the VCF if you were in the NYC Exposure Zone in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001. VCF registration doesn’t obligate you to file a claim, but it preserves your future right to do so. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a disease or cancer connected with the toxins in the dust cloud, many conditions have long latency periods and can develop at a later time.
Misconception #5: The More Conditions You Have, the Higher Your Award
Your VCF award is not tied to the number of 9/11-related health conditions you have, but rather the type and severity of each. Generally, non-economic loss awards for non-cancers are capped at $90,000, and cancers are awarded up to $250,000. However, if you have been diagnosed with several forms of cancer, or a cancer and a severe non-cancer condition, the Special Master has the discretion to exceed the statutory cap and issue an award greater than $250,000.
Contact a New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
Understanding the rules concerning filing a VCF claim can be confusing and frustrating. It’s best to have the guidance of an experienced 9/11 VCF attorney who has knowledge of the regulations, and can ensure you secure the award you deserve. The attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. provides dedicated representation to responders and survivors and work diligently to obtain the maximum compensation available to them.
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.