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Can a 9/11 Responder Recover Lost Earnings from the VCF?


Thousands of 9/11 responders continue to suffer from serious illnesses in connection with the work they performed at Ground Zero and in the NYC Exposure Zone. Due to inhaling the toxic chemicals in the dust cloud that covered lower Manhattan, many responders developed various forms of cancer, respiratory illnesses, musculoskeletal conditions, and aerodigestive disorders. 

Unfortunately, the severity of many responders’ conditions left them physically incapable of working. Not only has this meant loss of income for them and their families, but other economic losses have often impacted them as well.

If you responded to Ground Zero or aided in the recovery efforts in the NYC Exposure Zone in the immediate aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, you may be entitled to a monetary award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The VCF seeks to ensure that every responder obtains the compensation they deserve for their 9/11-related losses, including their past and future lost earnings.

Who Is Eligible to Recover Lost Earnings from the VCF?

Any responder who has a certified and eligible 9/11-related health condition that has left them physically incapable of working or caused them to retire early may be entitled to recover their lost earnings from the VCF. However, in addition to having a health condition certified by the WTC Health Program, they must also satisfy the VCF’s eligibility criteria concerning time frame and presence.

Critically, a VCF award for lost earnings can include the following:

  • Past lost wages
  • Future lost wages
  • Lost pension benefits
  • Lost retirement benefits
  • Lost healthcare benefits

Responders who are eligible to recover lost earnings may include members of the FDNY, NYPD, NYCERS, Con Ed workers, corrections officers, and any others who assisted with the rescue, recovery, and cleanup efforts. Significantly, the VCF will also evaluate other economic losses, such as promotions and other opportunities, if adequate evidence is provided.

Disability Determinations

Importantly, the VCF requires a disability determination in order to issue an award for future lost earnings or benefits. While the VCF works with the WTC Health Program regarding disability determinations, it accepts disability determinations from certain employers, such as the FDNY and NYPD. The VCF will also consider disability determinations from government agencies such as the VA, Social Security Administration, and Workers’ Compensation. Disability determinations from private insurers or physicians may be accepted if they provide sufficient detail about the health condition and disability.   

The WTC Health Program Disability Evaluation process is meant for those who do not have a determination from one of the above standard third-party sources. In order to be eligible for this process, a responder must be a member of the WTC Health Program and have at least one certified physical 9/11-related condition that could reasonably be found to be disabling.

In addition, a responder must be either not working or earning materially less income to qualify for the WTC Health Program Disability Evaluation process. Those claiming lost earnings in connection with FDNY and NYPD employment are typically not eligible for this process because there is an alternative formal process available to them, including for members who have retired.      

Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney       

If you were a 9/11 responder and you retired early due to a disability resulting from a 9/11 health condition, you may be entitled to recover your lost earnings, lost pension benefits, and other economic losses. However, it’s essential to have a knowledgeable 9/11 VCF attorney by your side to assist you with the VCF claims process to ensure you receive the maximum award you deserve.    

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have represented claimants and their families in VCF claims for more than a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.


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