As a result of inhaling the toxins in the dust cloud that covered lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, an overwhelming amount of responders and survivors developed cancer and other serious health conditions. Tragically, many passed away from their illnesses. In addition to providing monetary recovery to responders and survivors for the impact their 9/11-related illnesses have had on them during their lifetimes, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund also issues awards to the families of those who have died due to a 9/11-related disease.
It’s essential to understand that specific documents must be submitted in order for the VCF to process a deceased claim. Also, it’s important to know that the VCF recently updated its deceased claim checklist to help ensure that the families of responders and survivors who have passed from their 9/11 health conditions obtain the compensation to which they are entitled.
What Documents Are Needed to File a VCF Deceased Claim?
The VCF cannot begin its review of a deceased claim until the required documentation is submitted and complete. These documents must be executed and submitted by the individual who has been designated the personal representative of the responder or survivor’s estate.
The minimum documents that must be provided to the VCF for a deceased claim include the following:
- The completed VCF Claim Form
- Letters of Administration or a court order appointing an administrator of the estate
- The responder or survivor’s death certificate showing the cause of death
- The Claim Form signature page
- Authorization for release of medical records
- Documentation to support proof of presence at a 9/11 site
- Information about life insurance
- Claim Form Appendix A (if filing a hard copy of the claim form)
- VCF ACH Payment Information Form or VCF Client Authorization Form
The above are the documents required for most claims. But depending on the specific circumstances, the VCF might contact the personal representative for additional information once the review process is underway. Critically, for the VCF to award compensation, documentation must be provided that establishes the cause of death as being the result of a 9/11 health condition. If the death certificate does not link the victim’s death to an eligible 9/11 illness, additional documentation should be submitted — such as a hospital discharge summary or final medical records.
If applicable to the deceased claim, other documentation that must be provided may include proof of settlement or withdrawal from a 9/11-related lawsuit, paperwork to support replacement services loss, documents pertaining to loss of earnings, or collateral source payments.
What Compensation Is Awarded in Deceased Claims?
The family of a 9/11 responder or survivor who passed away due to a cancer or illness linked to the dust cloud may be eligible to recover a wide variety of losses. For instance, they might be able to recover burial and memorial expenses, unreimbursed medical expenses, lost earnings and benefits, and replacement services loss. Significantly, if any information regarding economic loss is missing, the VCF will only issue an award for non-economic loss.
A non-economic loss award is separate from an economic loss award. Non-economic loss claims come in two parts: (1) compensation for the non-economic losses in connection with the decedent’s personal injury claim, and (2) wrongful death compensation. A wrongful death award is meant to provide the victim’s family with financial compensation for the harm they suffered, as well as the victim’s pain and suffering. In such cases, the VCF is permitted by the Zadroga Act to issue non-economic loss in the presumed amount of $250,000 for the victim and $100,000 to the spouse and each dependent.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you lost a loved one to a health condition linked to the toxins in the 9/11 dust cloud, you may be able to pursue a deceased claim with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, the VCF’s registration and claim filing processes can be confusing to navigate, and it’s best to have the guidance of an experienced 9/11 VCF attorney to ensure you secure the award to which you are entitled.