Aerodigestive disorders are among the most common 9/11-related health conditions suffered by responders and survivors. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund acknowledges that these types of illnesses can significantly affect quality of life and one’s ability to work.
Accordingly, aerodigestive disorders that have been certified by the WTC Health Program are compensated by the VCF. But it’s important to be aware that while there is no minimum time interval imposed by the Program to certify such conditions, there is a maximum time interval for each category of aerodigestive disorder.
Aerodigestive Disorder Categories and Maximum Time Intervals
An aerodigestive disorder is a disease or condition of the aerodigestive tract and upper digestive tract that can impact respiratory functions and swallowing. In addition to exposure to the 9/11 dust cloud, the primary risk factor for responders who suffer from these illnesses is early arrival at Ground Zero. Significantly, the WTC Health Program has consistently documented that the most common symptoms associated with aerodigestive disorders are both acute and delayed.
The WTC Health Program has determined maximum time intervals to ensure a condition is connected with exposure to the 9/11 dust cloud. The categories and maximum time intervals are as follows:
- Category I — COPD (WTC-Exacerbated and New-Onset Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease): no maximum time interval
- Category II — Other obstructive airways diseases, including chronic respiratory disorder, asthma, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, chronic cough syndrome: maximum time interval is five years
- Category III — Upper respiratory disease, upper airway hyperreactivity, chronic rhinosinusitis, chronic nasopharyngitis, chronic laryngitis: maximum time interval is five years
- Category IV — All types of interstitial lung disease: no maximum time interval
- Category V — Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) co-occurring with an aerodigestive disorder in one of the above categories: maximum time interval is five years
- Category VI — Isolated GERD not co-occurring with another aerodigestive disorder: maximum time interval is one year
For the categories in which maximum time intervals have been established, the WTC Health Program Administrator has determined that for certification purposes, the maximum time interval should not be exceeded — except in cases where a highly unique exposure circumstances can be documented.
What Compensation Do Responders and Survivors Receive for Aerodigestive Disorders?
A responder or survivor who suffers from an aerodigestive disorder may be entitled to an award from the VCF. Critically, a VCF award consists of two parts — the economic loss award and the non-economic loss award. While a VCF economic loss award can address the monetary losses incurred in connection with an aerodigestive disorder, a non-economic loss award compensates for the pain and suffering experienced as a result of the condition.
An economic loss award can include loss of income, lost benefits, replacement of services lost, and other pecuniary losses. A non-economic loss award covers things like emotional anguish, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life. The maximum amount the VCF will typically issue for an aerodigestive disorder under the Zadroga Act is $90,000, depending on the severity of the condition. These awards are each calculated separately.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor who suffers from an aerodigestive disorder, you may be entitled to receive a monetary award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, filing a claim can be complex — it’s best to have a 9/11 VCF attorney by your side who can help ensure that you obtain the compensation you deserve.
The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have represented claimants and their families for more than a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.