Many 9/11 responders and survivors employed by the City of New York at the time of the terrorist attacks continue to suffer from debilitating illnesses linked to the toxic dust cloud. These individuals include EMTs, NYC Department of Sanitation workers, NYC Department of Correction officers, and others. Tragically, many NYCERS members have passed away due to their 9/11-related health conditions. Their families may be entitled to pursue compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
VCF Eligibility Criteria for NYCERS Deceased Claims
A VCF deceased claim for an NYCERS member who died as a result of a 9/11 cancer or other 9/11-related illness must be filed by the personal representative of their estate. However, to qualify for compensation, the deceased individual must have been present in the area defined as the NYC Exposure Zone in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Additionally, their eligible health condition must have been certified by the WTC Health Program.
VCF Compensation in NYCERS Deceased Claims
A VCF deceased claim comprises two parts that are each calculated separately: the victim’s personal injury award and the wrongful death award.
The personal injury award is meant to provide compensation for the losses the victim incurred because of their 9/11 illness during their lifetime — it considers both the economic and non-economic losses suffered by the victim. Specifically, in calculating compensation for loss of retirement benefits on behalf of a deceased NYCERS member, the VCF will look to the following documentation:
- The member’s “Retirement Data Sheet” or “Disability Retirement Data Sheet”
- The member’s pension plan
- The date the individual first became a member
- The confirmation letter regarding the finalization of the pension
- Information concerning a disability pension, if applicable
The second part of a deceased claim, the wrongful death award, is meant to compensate the deceased victim’s family for the loss of their loved one. In addition to recovering the economic loss they may have suffered in connection with losing a family member — such as the victim’s lost earnings and benefits — the VCF may also issue an award for their non-economic loss. Pursuant to the Zadroga Act, the VCF may award the family $250,000 on behalf of the victim, as well as $100,000 to the spouse and each dependent.
Obtaining NYCERS Documents for Deceased Claims
In December 2021, the VCF released an update specifying that the families of deceased responders and survivors should no longer send requests to NYCERS for documentation. Instead, requests must now be sent by the VCF to NYCERS through the information exchange established by the entities.
Families who have a request for information pending with NYCERS and have not yet received it will need to submit an additional document to the VCF, referred to as an “Exhibit B1.” The VCF will then resubmit the request directly to NYCERS, which will be expedited. It’s important to remember that when you upload a B1 to a VCF claim, you should also include a copy of the request previously sent to NYCERS that specifies the date the request was first made. This is critical in light of the NYCERS guidelines concerning Letters of Administration.
NYCERS will only accept Letters of Administration that are dated within one year of the date the VCF submits the request for documentation. This is a rule that applies to all information requests. In some cases, it may be necessary to obtain updated Letters of Administration.
Contact a New York City 9/11 VCF Attorney
If your lost loved one was an NYCERS member who died because of a 9/11-related health condition, you may be entitled to a VCF deceased claim. However, the VCF’s regulations and procedures can be complex. Filing errors can result in delayed or denied claims. It is best to have an experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney by your side to guide you through the claim filing process.
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.