Common Misconceptions About 9/11-Related Illnesses and Compensation

Robert A. Grochow
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At Cannata, Hendele & Cannata, LLP, we understand that there are many misconceptions surrounding 9/11-related illnesses and the compensation available through programs like the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP). In this blog, we aim to debunk these misconceptions and provide clarity to those who may be eligible for support.

Misconception 1: You Had to Be Present on 9/11 To File a Claim

A common misconception is that you had to be present in lower Manhattan on 9/11 when the attacks occurred to be eligible to file a claim. This is completely wrong. Instead, if not present on 9/11, we can look at what other times you were present. The coverage zone, generally thought of as lower Manhattan, actually may go as far as Houston Street, into certain areas of Brooklyn and other areas as well. Further, the WTCHP will consider how much exposure you had all the way up to July 30, 2022. 

Misconception 2: You Had to Be Present South of Canal Street

While this is the widely publicized guideline, there are many exceptions. In fact, the WTCHP will consider as far north as Houston Street and certain sections of Brooklyn and elsewhere for the extent of your toxic exposure. 

Misconception 3: Only First Responders Are Eligible for Compensation

One of the most common misconceptions is that only first responders qualify for compensation. In reality, anyone who was present in the 9/11 exposure zone in lower Manhattan between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, may be eligible for compensation and medical care if they develop 9/11-related health conditions. This includes office workers, residents, students and more. In fact, the WTCHP considers exposure dates through July 31, 2022 and covers additional areas outside of lower Manhattan.

Misconception 4: Compensation Is Limited to Immediate Health Effects

Some believe that compensation is only available for immediate health effects experienced in the aftermath of the attacks. The VCF and WTCHP recognize that many 9/11-related health conditions have long latency periods and may not manifest until years later. Individuals who develop these conditions are still eligible for support, even if it's been decades since their exposure. An all too common example is the occurrence of cancer, previously diagnosed or just being diagnosed now. 

Misconception 5: It's Too Late to File a Claim

Another misconception is that it's too late to file a claim if you didn't do so in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The truth is that even today, over 22 years after the WTC attack,  individuals can still file claims for 9/11-related illnesses, even if they occurred many years later. It's essential to consult with experienced attorneys who can guide you through the claims process.

Misconception 6: Compensation Is Minimal

Some believe that compensation from the VCF is minimal and not worth pursuing. In reality, the VCF has, to date,  set aside over $170 billion for 9/11 victims, and the amount of compensation can vary depending on factors such as the severity of the illness and economic losses. Many individuals have received substantial compensation that has made a significant difference in their lives.

Misconception 7: Legal Representation Is Unnecessary

While it's not mandatory to have legal representation when filing a claim, it can greatly benefit claimants. Attorneys experienced in 9/11 compensation cases can navigate the complex application process, gather necessary evidence, and advocate for their clients' rights. Legal representation with an experienced 9/11 attorney can help maximize the chances of a successful claim..

Misconception 8: The Process Is Too Complicated

Some individuals are deterred from seeking compensation due to the perceived complexity of the application process. While it can be intricate, experienced attorneys can simplify the process and handle all the necessary paperwork and documentation on behalf of claimants. This allows individuals to focus on their health and well-being.

Misconception 9: Compensation Claims Are Denied Automatically

It's untrue that compensation claims are automatically denied. The VCF carefully reviews each claim and considers all relevant evidence. While some claims may face challenges, having experienced legal representation can help address issues and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.


Misconceptions about 9/11-related illnesses and compensation can prevent eligible individuals from receiving the support they deserve. If you or a loved one were present at some point in Lower Manhattan between 9/11/2001 and 5/30/2002 and have questions about eligibility or the claims process, reach out to Cannata, Hendele & Cannata, LLP. We are here to provide accurate information and guide you through the process, ensuring that you receive the care and compensation you are entitled to.

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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