There are two types of civil actions that are accepted through the VCF. Victims may file civil lawsuits to recover collateral source payments such as workers' compensation. They also have the right to take legal action against the terrorists responsible for the attacks without waiving their eligibility for compensation through the VCF.
Do you want to know more about the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)? We've compiled answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to the 9/11 compensation fund.
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Who Is Eligible to Receive 9/11 Compensation?
There are several criteria an individual must meet in order to be eligible for compensation through the fund. Here is a list of criteria to meet and steps to complete for individuals seeking compensation.
Before filing a claim, a claimant must register with the VCF before the following registration deadlines have passed:
- Registration should be completed within two years from the date the claimant knew or should have known he or she has a 9/11-related physical health condition and that he or she was eligible for the VCF.
- For claimants whose conditions were later added to the list of conditions covered by the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program, the two-year period begins either when a government entity determines the condition is a result of the 9/11 terror attacks or when the claimant receives a certification letter from the WTC Health Program.
Victims may register with the VCF even if they don't currently have a WTC Health Program-certified condition. This solidifies a victim's right to file a claim at a later date. If a victim registers for any condition, all eligible health conditions may be considered to determine the award.
WTC Health Program Certification
The VCF requires notification from the WTC Health Program that verifies the victim suffers from at least one eligible physical injury or health condition related to the 9/11 attacks or debris clean-up after the attacks. In a limited number of cases, a claimant's condition may be certified through the VCF Private Physician process.
Conditions Eligible for VCF CompensationExpand to See a Full List of Eligible Conditions
Acute Traumatic Injuries
Blood and Lymphoid Tissue
Female Reproductive Organs
Head & Neck
Skin (Melanoma and non-Melanoma)
Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSK)*
*Although the majority of those compensated through the fund for MSK has been first responders, a survivor may receive compensation for MSK if suitable proof is provided.
|Sources: CDC; September 11th Victim Compensation Fund - Policies and Procedures|
All claimants must be able to prove they were present, between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, at a 9/11 crash site, along debris-removal routes, or within the NYC Exposure Zone determined by the VCF. Documentation is required to prove presence. Examples of acceptable documentation include employer letters, sworn affidavits, medical records, and lease or mortgage documents.
Lawsuit Participation (If Applicable)
Victims who file a claim with the VCF waive their rights to file or take part in a lawsuit to recoup damages incurred because of the 9/11 attacks or debris clean-up. Therefore, anyone who was involved with a 9/11-related lawsuit in a state or federal court must prove the lawsuit was dismissed, withdrawn or settled to qualify for compensation through the VCF. If a victim was part of a lawsuit settlement, the settlement amount will be deducted from the compensation award.
Claims Through Initial VCF (If Applicable)
Victims who were compensated during the initial tenure of the VCF, which occurred between 2001 and 2004, may file a new claim if they suffer from a new 9/11-related physical health condition that was not previously compensated.
Authorization (If Applicable)
If someone is submitting a claim on behalf of the victim, that person must prove they have legal authorization to do so. For example, a person filing on behalf of a minor must be the child's legal guardian.
How Much Did 9/11 Victims Get Paid Through the VCF?
Between 2001 and 2004, the VCF paid out an average death claim award of $2,082,128. The highest amount paid for a deceased claim was $7.1 million. The fund awarded anywhere from $500 to more than $8.6 million for personal injury claims.
In 2015, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act was signed into law. The bill contained several new measures that affect the total amount of compensation a victim can receive through the fund:
- Awards for non-economic loss from cancer conditions are capped at $250,000.
- Awards for non-economic loss from non-cancer conditions are capped at $90,000.
- Only the first $200,000 in annual income is considered when calculating a victim's economic losses.
Victims suffering from multiple cancers or severe non-cancer conditions may receive an award greater than $250,000.
All money paid out by the fund is non-taxable.
What Type of Compensation Is Available?
Awards are determined on a case-by-case basis. When determining a compensation award, the Special Master, who is in charge of reviewing claims and distributing funds, may consider non-economic loss, economic loss and collateral offsets.
Non-economic loss, also commonly referred to as "pain and suffering," varies based on the type of health condition a victim suffers, the severity of the condition and the impact it has on the victim's quality of life. All victims eligible for compensation through the VCF will receive damages related to non-economic losses. The number of certified health conditions a victim suffers from does not determine the calculated non-economic loss.
Economic loss can potentially cover lost earnings, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and replacement services loss with a few limitations. Compensation for loss of earnings is only provided to victims who have an occupational disability as a result of an eligible 9/11-related health condition. The VCF will then review the potential past and/or future loss of earnings and employment benefits when determining economic loss.
If a claimant accrues out-of-pocket medical expenses greater than $5,000 related to an eligible physical condition that is not covered by the WTC Health Program or insurance, he or she may be eligible for reimbursement through the VCF. To be considered for reimbursement from the fund, a claimant must file an amendment after the initial award has been determined and provide proper documentation of the expenses.
In some cases, the VCF may pay replacement services loss. If a victim was responsible for general household-related tasks and is unable to fulfill those responsibilities because of an eligible condition, the VCF may estimate the value of those services and provide compensation, similar to loss of consortium awarded in some civil lawsuits. Replacement services loss is often included in deceased claims or cases in which the victim did not earn income or worked part-time.
A collateral offset is another form of payment that benefits the claimant. This might include life insurance benefits, workers' compensation awards or government benefits that are available because of a victim's injury or death. Certain collateral source payments will be subtracted from the total award paid out by the compensation fund.
What Is the Deadline to File a VCF Claim?
In July 2019, President Trump signed The Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act into law. In doing so, the President extended the fund's filing deadline from December 18, 2020, to October 1, 2090. Victims still need to register on time -- using the registration guidelines previously mentioned -- in order to file a future claim.
If you think you might be eligible for 9/11 compensation, get assistance filing your claim from one of our experienced lawyers.