If you have been diagnosed with a 9/11-related cancer or illness you may be eligible for a 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund payout.

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What you need to know about 9/11 fund eligibility requirements:

9/11 Fund Eligibility

You did not have to be present on 9/11 to qualify for compensation. Contact us today to learn more.
  • Anyone who was in the New York City Exposure Zone (or ”Disaster Area”) on, or after, 9/11 may be eligible for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund & World Trade Center Health Program — you did not have to be present on 9/11 to qualify for compensation.
  • The NYC Exposure Zone starts at Houston Street and extends south, including a 1.5 mile radius from Ground Zero that covers Lower Manhattan and areas of Brooklyn, NY.
  • Your location inside this zone will determine which 9/11 programs you may be eligible for. You can qualify for both tax-free financial compensation and free lifetime medical care.

According to the latest VCF program statistics, more than 140,000 people have already registered for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund; however, there are still an estimated 360,000 more individuals that are already ill or at risk of becoming sick from their exposure to 9/11 toxic debris and haven’t yet registered for this massive government fund.

While there may be exceptions based on your individual circumstances, in general, anyone who was exposed to the toxic dust within the Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, may be eligible for financial compensation.

This includes Lower Manhattan office workers, residents, teachers, students, clean-up workers, construction crews, responders, volunteers, firefighters, police, EMTs, NYPD officers, and anyone who lived, worked, or went to school in the Exposure Zone.

If you have questions about your 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund eligibility, the experienced VCF lawyers at Cannata, Hendele & Cannata can help.

Our law has helped thousands of individuals in the 9/11 community recover tax-free compensation and free lifetime medical care.

NEXT STEP: Call 1-888-982-8428 or contact us online to discuss your 9/11 fund eligibility with an experienced VCF lawyer today.

Learn more about specific eligibility requirements for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

Who is eligible for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund?

Any individual that was exposed to the toxic air at the World Trade Center or the New York City Exposure Zone and has been diagnosed with WTCHP-certified cancer or illness is eligible for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

The CDC estimates over 400,000 people are eligible to apply, including first responders, volunteers, workers, office staff, and any individual who lived, worked, or attended school in the affected areas of Lower Manhattan.

911 fund eligibility criteria

Compensation is also provided to victims in the area around the Pentagon crash and at the crash site in Pennsylvania between September 11th, 2001, and May 30th, 2002 who have since experienced illness related to their exposure.

One of the critical benefits of the VCF is that it's not only offered to 9/11 first responders.

9/11 compensation fund eligibility applies to anyone who volunteered during site clean-up, participated in construction projects, and helped clear debris, as well as any person who lived, worked, or attended school in the NYC Exposure Zone.

If an individual who was exposed has passed away, a personal representative of the deceased is eligible to apply on their behalf and receive funds, too.

While the September 11th Victim Compensation fund does not distinguish between “responders” and “survivors,” your enrollment into the WTC Health Program (a requirement for the VCF) requires slightly different documentation and proof of presence based on your assigned group eligibility as either a survivor or responder.

Groups that qualify for the WTC Health Program and 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund include:

WTC Survivors

Any person exposed to toxic dust on 9/11 or in the days, weeks, or months after and later developed a serious illness due to the toxic dust falls is considered a survivor, including:

  • Any person who lived, worked, attended school, or attended daycare for children or adults in the New York City Exposure zone area as well as those who spent time in the NYC Disaster Zone
  • Cleanup workers who performed maintenance and faced extensive exposure to dust from the World Trade Center (but who don't meet the definition of a First Responder)
  • Any person eligible for a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Residential Grant Program who bought or leased a residence in the New York City disaster area and those who lived in that area, and who later developed a serious health condition
  • Any person with a qualifying health condition who worked in the exposure zone and maintained eligibility to receive a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation World Trade Center Small Firms Attraction and Retention Act Program or other incentive programs from the government for the purpose of revitalizing Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attacks

FDNY Responders

The WTC Health Program provides specific eligibility guidelines for FDNY Responders regarding exposure time and presence. Your VCF lawyer will discuss with you these requirements and your eligibility based on your individual circumstances.

Responders from the New York Fire Department (FDNY) that were involved in rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero, the Staten Island landfill, or the NYC Chief Medical Examiner's office between eligible dates may also qualify for VCF compensation.

This group also extends payment for mental health conditions to family members of FDNY responders who passed away for any treatment sought prior to certain timelines.

WTC General Responders

The complicated policies of the WTC Health Program provide for differing amounts of exposure time based upon the nature of your work or presence.

There are exceptions for General Responders depending upon your individual circumstances.

  • Active and current members of the New York Police Department (NYPD), Port Authority Police, or the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey also fall under the category of first responders (most locations are in Lower Manhattan and may be subject to certain eligibility dates and time guidelines)
  • Employees of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City or other employees of NYC morgues involved in handling human remains and body bags covered in toxic dust (including workers at Bellevue Hospital or the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner)
  • Tunnel workers for the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation.
  • Vehicle maintenance workers exposed to WTC debris while cleaning, driving, maintaining, repairing, and retrieving vehicles

Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania Plane Crash Site Responders

This group includes active or retired police and fire department personnel from the Pentagon cleanup site who worked over a certain amount of time. Their activities must have included debris cleanup, demolition, recovery, and rescue.

The requirements are the same for the Shanksville plane crash site with the exception of specific dates of eligibility.

Your VCF attorney will discuss with you these requirements and your eligibility based on your individual circumstances.

What is the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund?

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was initially created in 2001 and distributed more than $7 billion to the families of more than 2,800 people who died in the terrorist attacks on 9/11, as well as 2,680 others who suffered injuries.

Most of the initial claims submitted to the original VCF were based on physical injuries. The first eligible applicants were people who were harmed directly by the attacks and the volunteers and first responders who worked to secure the disaster sites and clean up the debris.

However, participants in the WTC clean-up and those present at the attack sites who survived began developing cancer and other illnesses related to their exposure.

A report on the health risks of exposure to the toxic contaminants of 9/11, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicated that an estimated 400,000 people in the area may have been exposed to a toxic debris cloud through their skin or when they inhaled the toxic dust.

When it became clear that residents, workers, volunteers, and other people who spent time in the Exposure Zone started exhibiting symptoms after the initial VCF expired.

According to federal government archived records from the Department of Justice, the original fund operated from 2001 to 2003.

On January 2, 2011, President Obama signed a new law called the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (H.R. 847; Pub. L. 111–347) which Congress named the act after a New York City police officer who died in 2006 due to his exposure to the collapse of the Twin Towers.

This Zadroga Act provided 9/11 fund eligibility to thousands of first responders, volunteers, and survivors who had not been eligible for the Victim Compensation Fund prior, and created the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), the organization responsible for administering medical benefits to those with health problems due to toxic exposure from 9/11.

In 2015, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act was passed and extended the filing deadline for people suffering from cancer or illnesses.

On July 29, 2019, President Trump signed the bill (the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act) that would permanently reauthorize the fund and provide billions of dollars to victims through 2090, a date chosen to cover claimants for the rest of their lives.

VCF deadline update

Time passes, and memories fade, but the injuries and suffering caused by the events of 9/11 may remain with a victim for the rest of their life.

Families of victims, too, may see their lives irrevocably changed after a loved one starts exhibiting signs of a disease or condition caused by 9/11 exposure.

Applying for compensation from the fund takes time and dedication, which is why many survivors hire our experienced 9/11 lawyers to file their VCF claims.

Additional 9/11 fund eligibility requirements

Getting a payout from the Victim Compensation Fund can be a complex process, with rigorous documentation requirements, strict deadlines, and potential denial appeals.

When you contact our law firm to discuss your 9/11 fund eligibility our WTC VCF lawyers will carefully analyze your medical condition(s) and each criterion to determine your 9/11 fund eligibility.

Our legal team will support you throughout each step of the claims processing, including:

  • Determining your eligibility based on your illness and other factors such as the time you spent in the Ground Zero exposure area.
  • Registering you for the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) for certification of your covered illness and free medical monitoring.
  • Registering you for the Victim Compensation Fund, documenting your proof of presence, and submitting a compelling claim on your behalf.

Once we've determined that you're eligible for the fund, our legal will team will guide your through the full registration process, including:

‍1. Registration & VCF claim filing

Applicants for compensation must file a claim and register with the VCF to start the claim process. The VCF lists two deadlines: the Claim Filing Deadline and the Registration Deadline.

The VCF claim filing deadline is October 1st, 2090, and is the same for all applicants.

The program's administrators encourage all who apply to file a claim with the VCF after the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) certifies them for having a physical health condition related to 9/11.

In addition to the claim filing deadline, the VCF also lists a registration deadline, where an applicant preserves their right to file a claim in the future.

Registering doesn't force anyone to waive their legal rights, nor does it obligate the registrant to file a claim.

The VCF encourages anyone who believes they might want to file a claim to register as soon as possible, even if they haven't yet been diagnosed with an illness or certified by the WTCHP.

There are unique registration deadlines that depend on whether a claimant is filing a personal injury claim or a claim on behalf of a deceased individual.

Victims must file personal injury claims within two years of the date when a government entity notified the claimant of an eligible 9/11-related health condition.

In the case of a claim made on behalf of the deceased, the deadline is the latter of two possible dates:

  • Within two years of the victim's date of death, or;
  • Within two years of the date when the VCF verified the death as related to 9/11

2. Dismissing or completing any 9/11-related lawsuits

For most who file, VCF claims are prohibited for those who have an active lawsuit related to 9/11. When filing a claim, a victim must have their lawsuit dismissed or finalized.

Filing a claim for damages with the VCF means waiving the right to file a civil action in any federal or state court for damages related to the aircraft crashes or subsequent debris removal.

This facet of filing a claim is vital because a claimant will waive their right to a future lawsuit before the VCF determines whether they are entitled to compensation.

There are two exceptions for some filers, including civil actions for the recovery of collateral source obligations and civil actions against any person who is alleged to be a "knowing participant" in the 9/11 attacks.

The most famous example of a civil action against an alleged "knowing participant" is the years-long battle of 9/11 families in their suit against Saudi Arabia. Victims filed a lawsuit in 2017 that accused the Saudi government of involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

The lawsuit was allowed because of an act of Congress called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which Congress passed in 2016 despite the threat of a veto from President Obama.

3. Documenting your 9/11-related illness, physical injury, or condition

9/11 eligibility requires proof of having a physical injury caused by the crashes on September 11th, 2001, or an injury or illness (such as skin cancer) from your presence in the NYC Exposure Zone anytime in the months that followed.

The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) lists several categories of physical health injuries and health conditions (known as ”certified conditions”) that qualify for compensation from the Victim Compensation Fund.

These conditions include (but are not limited to asthma, chronic rhinosinusitis, certain musculoskeletal disorders, acute traumatic injuries, Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS), interstitial lung diseases, and many other ailments.

In addition, more than 68 different types of 9/11-covered cancers are also associated certified by the WTCHP, including digestive system cancers, thyroid cancers, urinary system cancers, bladder cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, and cancers of female reproductive organs.

The WTCHP has established minimum and maximum time intervals between when an individual experienced 9/11 exposure and when their symptoms began.

Timeframes are different for each category of conditions, and the WTC Health Program has been modified a handful of times as further information on victim conditions became available.

Please note: Individuals suffering from psychological ailments related to their presence at the crash sites aren't eligible for compensation from the VCF, however, the World Trade Center Health Program is authorized to offer treatment to individuals diagnosed with 9/11-related psychological conditions.

4. Documenting your proof of present in the NYC Exposure Zone

Eligibility for compensation also requires proof that you were present at one of the 9/11 crash sites or present in the Exposure Zone at any point between September 11th, 2001, and May 30th, 2002.

Although first responders were the first beneficiaries of the VCF, the fund is currently available for anyone in the area, whether they were a responder or not.

The crash sites include the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Shanksville, Pennsylvania site. Some of the damaged buildings in the immediate proximity to the WTC towers are included in those crash sites.

Beyond the immediate area where the Twin Towers fell, claimants may also prove that they were in the New York City Exposure Zone, which covers the tip of Manhattan south of Canal Street and areas near the routes of debris removal.

Our attorneys will help you understand the proof of presence requirements for your secific claim, and will work tirelessly to gather all necessary documentation and records to satisfy this eligibility requirement.

5. Proving a worsened condition (for additional VCF claims)

In some cases, individuals who received compensation from the original September 11th Victim Compensation Fund that concluded in 2004 may be eligible to apply for additional compensation if they can prove that their initial injury has become substantially worse.

Further, individuals who already received payment from the original VCF may file another claim if they have developed a new physical injury or medical condition that wasn't present at the time of the first claim.

In some cases, someone who was given funds from the first VCF could become eligible for additional money after a secondary condition that wasn't initially eligible for claims was made compensable in the newest iteration of the VCF.

Some individuals who experienced new or worsening physical problems may amend their claim and request additional compensation if their claim is already under review by the VCF.

6. Becoming legally authorized to file a claim (for personal representatives of a deceased individual)

Those interested in filing a claim on another person's behalf must show that they are authorized to act as a “Personal Representative“ for a deceased victim or for an adult who is incapacitated.

Legal authorization may come via a court order or a previously established guardianship under the law.

Before the VCF considers a claim filed on behalf of a victim, a person known as the Special Master of the VCF will validate the individual's authority to act as a representative of the victim.

The documents required publication from the September 11th VCF list items that a personal representative must provide the VCF to determine whether that person can file a claim on behalf of someone else.

Documents and information required include the victim's death certificate, proof of the victim's cause of death, and a completed claim form signature page.

Letters of Administration, Letters of Testamentary, or a court order showing the representative's appointment as a personal representative, estate administrator, or executor of a will must also be supplied.

There are some limited circumstances when the Special Master of the VCF may appoint a representative who cannot supply one of the required documents.

In some cases, the VCF may appoint more than one representative with one person deemed the "lead" for the purposes of submitting a VCF claim.

WTCHP & VCF Exposure Zones

When filing a claim, individuals must receive an evaluation from the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), as well as prove that they were present within the New York City Exposure Zone, which is south of Canal Street and within several blocks of Ground Zero and the former site of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center.

Exposure zones also include the sites at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and the crash site in Pennsylvania.

Expressly, the NYC Exposure Zone in Manhattan is contained within an area that is south of Canal Street, from the Hudson River on the west to the intersection of Canal and East Broadway on the eastern side of Manhattan, and on to Clinton Street, which runs south to the East River.

In addition to the area contained within the southern tip of Lower Manhattan, the Exposure Zone also includes areas along the routes taken to remove debris from Ground Zero and the barges that carried the debris and the dumping site at the Fresh Kills Landfill.

The VCF provides a graphical NYC Map of Exposure Zone page, which may help individuals determine whether they might qualify for a claim from the fund.

Once a claimant determines they were in one of the exposure zones defined by the VCF, victims must register and seek an evaluation from the World Trade Center Health Program, the official agency responsible for medical monitoring and treatment of anyone who exhibits World Trade Center-related health conditions.

The WTCHP treats responders and survivors with care administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the CDC and the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services.

The WTCHP operates in the New York Metropolitan Area in its Clinical Centers of Excellence (CCE) and from authorized providers in its Nationwide Provider Network (NPN).

Medical professionals at the nation's CCEs have diagnosed and treated people with conditions related to 9/11 exposure for the past twenty years.

Registering with the WTCHP doesn't cost anything, and victims may receive treatment without the burden of application fees, premiums, or co-pays.

First responders receive free monitoring, treatment, and medication for their WTC-related conditions unless the responder has a workers' compensation claim for their condition.

Survivors' individual health insurance plans will help pay for the costs associated with monitoring and treatment, and the WTCHP program pays for the remaining charges.

It's important to remember that registering with and receiving treatment from the WTCHP is separate from registering with and filing a claim with the VCF.

An essential step in the journey toward successfully filing a claim is submitting an application to the WTCHP and getting one's condition certified.

What is the average payout through the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund?

calculating a VCF payout

Each year, the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund publishes a report with details on compensation totals, applications, and other facets of the program. In the VCF 2020 Annual Report, the fund approved 8,273 individuals, processed 9,129 payments, and delivered 8,813 initial award letters.

Further, they expedited 454 claims, fielded 47,153 calls to its helpline, and sent out an astounding 179,758 letters communicating with applicants and their authorized representatives.

As of the conclusion of 2020, the fund has distributed a total of $7,758,313,266.43 in awards, with $1,597,762,389.38 awarded in 2020.

While exact figures for the amount each victim has received aren't readily available, there are recently published statistics regarding the number of claims and the average payouts given to various types of claimants.

For example, the earliest iteration of the VFC received more than 7,400 claims from 2001 to 2003, with more than $7 billion awarded in compensation.

Many of those early claims were made by families who had a family member who died on 9/11. The fund gave those families an award that averaged $2,082,128.00, with the highest awards topping $7 million.

For claims distributed to individuals who hadn't died on the day of the tragedy, the awards ranged from $500 to $8.6 million.

As it stands today, the VCF has received claims from people in every U.S. state, as well as 31 foreign countries, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

More than 40,000 people have received an award, with more than 67,000 people applying for an award since the fund reopened in 2011.

Overall, more than 106,000 people have registered with the VCF as of 2020, but not every registrant has submitted a claim.

To determine an award, the VCF uses a three-part equation. Each award is based on the following formula.

Non-Economic Loss + Economic Loss – Collateral Offsets = VCF Award Amount

Non-economic loss

Non-Economic Loss is what the average layperson might know as a "pain and suffering" award. The VCF will examine the severity of an applicant's condition and how it impacts the experience of daily life for the claimant.

Non-Economic Loss is separate from the amount calculated for Economic Loss and may be calculated based on a victim's death or injury.

Economic loss

Economic Loss is a figure that comes from examining the pecuniary loss caused by an eligible condition. Monetary losses include the loss of earnings, loss of benefits received through employment, medical expenses, and other similar costs.

Claimants must submit proof that they are unable to work or cannot continue their previous job because of an eligible condition and supply information about previous earnings and benefits.

Collateral offsets

Collateral Offsets in the VCF equation are monies received outside the scope of the VCF that are related to the claimant's eligible condition.

For example, disabled or deceased wage earners awarded money from the Social Security Administration are considered to have collateral offsets.

In some cases, pensions are deemed collateral offsets. The VCF recommends that claimants consider their collateral offsets and speak with their attorney before submitting a claim.

Health risks as a result of 9/11

The health risks and conditions stemming from exposure to the events of 9/11 and beyond are staggering and include conditions like asbestosis, cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, and lung problems.

The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) publishes a list of Covered Conditions that fall into five categories, but there are some individual circumstances and diseases that the WTCHP might approve, even though the agency doesn't list those conditions on its website, (or on www.vcf.gov).

  • Acute & Traumatic Injuries
  • Cancers
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Airway and Digestive Disorders
  • Mental Health Conditions

Acute Traumatic Injuries are described as physical damage to the body caused by adverse conditions or hazards. Some examples of acute traumatic injuries include burns, eye injuries, and head trauma. Other acute conditions include tendon tears, fractures, and complex sprains.

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth and spread of cells that may occur anywhere in the body. Cancer may make it difficult for normal bodily functions to happen, and the WTCHP lists many different types of cancers as included in the health risks resulting from 9/11 exposure.

Some of those cancers include those of the prostate, thyroid, breast, ovaries, and respiratory system.

Musculoskeletal Disorders are eligible conditions for WTC Responders but are not allowable conditions for Survivors. These disorders are described as chronic or recurring disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Causes include repetitive strain on the joints and excessive heavy lifting. Conditions include lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), and other musculoskeletal disorders.

Airway & Digestive Disorders are several problems impacting breathing through the sinuses, lungs, and upper digestive tract. These issues are also known as Aerodigestive Disorders.

Some examples of these disorders include asthma, chronic laryngitis, chronic rhinosinusitis, upper airway hyperreactivity, and interstitial lung disease.

Mental Health Conditions aren't allowed as conditions that will allow a claimant to receive money from the VCF, but the WTCHP will provide mental health treatment as part of their healthcare services.

Mental health conditions that may allow an applicant to receive treatment include panic disorders, acute stress disorders, substance abuse problems, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The WTC Health Program makes occasional changes to its list of approved conditions, which means potential claimants and their legal team should check for updates with the Federal Register, where the WTCHP publishes changes.

Further, the WTCHP also publishes minimum and maximum timeframes between when a claimant suffered 9/11 exposure and experienced the start of their symptoms.

Speak with an experienced VCF law firm about your 9/11 fund eligibility today

The September 11th Victims Compensation Fund represents an incredible resource and benefit for anyone who has experienced an adverse, life-changing condition due to their presence at a crash site on 9/11 or their work during the resulting clean-up.

The registration process with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, getting approved by the World Trade Center Health Program, and submitting an official claim to the VCF is a complex process significantly aided by a dedicated legal team with experience in 9/11 VCF claims.

We want to help you receive the compensation you deserve, whether you were an office worker caught in the toxic dust cloud that erupted from Ground Zero on 9/11, an NYPD first responder, or you were a rescue worker who searched tirelessly for survivors after the tragedy.

Let a dedicated leader in the field of September 11th Victim Compensation Fund claim help you recover.

We've already recovered more than $300 million in financial compensation for our WTC clients, and we'll be at your side every step of the way.

Please call 1-888-982-8428 for a free consultation with one of our committed VCF lawyers or contact us on our website.

Deadline Alert: Don't wait, register your VCF claim today
Over 300,000 people may still qualify for a payout from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and free health benefits from the World Trade Center Health Program. Speak with our 9/11 attorneys today to see if you qualify.
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