New Claims Can Still Be Filed Under the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
Congressional battles during the past decade over providing adequate financial resources to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund make it clear that far too many Americans have now forgotten the great heroism displayed by the first responders and others on that tragic day. Fortunately, a major triumph regarding that fund happened in late July of 2019.
Congress finally passed legislation guaranteeing that all legitimate claims will now be honored through 2090. Due to all the fading memories, it’s important to review what happened on 9/11 before discussing some of the specific issues tied to filing a new claim with the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
What America experienced on 9/11 still daily affects thousands
- Early in the morning on September 11, 2001, nineteen (19) Islamic militants who belonged to the extremist al-Qaeda group hijacked four American airplanes so they could carry out coordinated attacks against the United States;
- Two of the four suicide bomber attacks struck New York City’s World Trade Center twin towers. The third plane purposely crashed into the Pentagon outside Washington D.C. The fourth plane – with an uncertain destination – was brought down in a field by brave passengers in a crash landing in Shanksville, Pennsylvania;
- Nearly 3000 people were killed in those attacks and thousands more suffered serious injuries. Many of those who were initially injured on 9/11 continue to develop serious, life-threatening medical conditions today;
- The WTC (World Trade Center) Health Registry is charged with keeping track of the
health status of all those who registered with the government and filed injury claims (based on direct exposure to the 9/11 event).
Most of those initially injured in the 9/11 attacks received financial help from the government’s September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) — as well as insurance companies and charities. By late November 2004, approximately $8.7 billion had been paid out on claims and roughly 51% of that amount was covered by insurance companies. Of the entire sum of $38 billion, a majority of the funds were paid to New York businesses.
Additional statistics, regarding the initial claims filed for 9/11 injuries
- A total of 7,408 claims were submitted from 75 countries. The September 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) made awards to 5,560 of those cases – totaling $7 billion;
- The VCF processed a total of 2,963 death claims. That meant that 98% of all the eligible families received compensation. The VCF then distributed money to 2,880 of those claims – with an average award of $2,082,128. One or more claims paid close to seven million dollars;
- The VCF was asked to process 4,445 personal injury claims. Money was distributed in 2,680 of those cases. The award amounts began at $500 and equaled as much as $8.6 million. All funds paid out were tax-free.
Reactivation of the VCF by President Obama in 2011
Since medical treatment funds were clearly threatened by the legitimate needs of all the first responders and others who suffered harm in the 9/11 disaster zones, President Barack Obama took decisive action.
In January of 2011, he signed into law the First Responders Bill – also referred to as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. This crucial legislation reactivated the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund that had originally helped so many people during earlier years.
Unfortunately, the Zadroga Act would only cover claims for a limited time. In December of 2015, President Obama signed a new bill reauthorizing the Zadroga Act — thereby extending its funding until a new, projected date of December 2020. However, a very distressing report issued in February 2019 stated that the VCF was falling very short of the financial resources it needed to fully pay for all claims.
While immediate, new legislation to refund the Zadroga Act would have been the appropriate thing to do — the issue was recast as a political matter. Too many people’s memories were apparently starting to fade — regarding the thousands of deaths and devastating injuries and illnesses that still plague many who sacrificed so much to help others back when America was attacked in 2001.
Finally, after a long political battle described as “bitter” by at least one media group, President Donald Trump signed a new bill into law. This late July 2019 bill permanently re-authorized the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). During the next 10 years, $10.2 billion will be authorized for this account. This means that between now and about 2090, all the 9/11 first responders (and qualified others) can obtain the legitimate funds they’ll need for 9/11-related medical care for the rest of their lives.
What types of medical claims and injuries are now covered?
Although it will prove very helpful to discuss your personal case and all medical issues with your New York City Zadroga Act attorney, the following list can provide you with an idea of the many common illnesses that have become the basis of valid, new 9/11 claims.
- Medical issues still requiring treatment that were initially referenced in the earliest claims you filed with the VCF;
- A wide variety of cancers;
- Many different types of respiratory and aerodigestive disorders, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease);
- Various types of head traumas
- Malignant neoplasms
- Digestive disorders
- Visual ailments
- Certain types of female breast and reproductive organ conditions
- Numerous internal head and neck disorders – many of these involve the sinuses and the mouth
- A variety of skin conditions – not all of which involve cancer
Although this list is not intended to be comprehensive, it should provide you with a broad overview of the many different types of illnesses and injuries that are often covered as valid Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) claims.
Important facts about 9/11 claims – often distorted in non-official publications
- People other than first responders can file claims under the September 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). Those who might be eligible can include people who lived, went to school, worked or spent time in the 9/11 “affected areas” between September 11, 2001, and the following May of 2002. It’s important to note that no priority is assigned regarding claims filed by first responders whose job it was to help victims that day;
- The VCF and the WTC Health Program are two separate programs. They each have their own registration requirements. The Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (the Zadroga Act) served to reopen the VCF – and it established the WTC (World Trade Center) Health Program that’s run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s the job of the WTC Health Program to carefully keep track of all medical treatment and care provided to those who were first responders at the NYC, Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania disaster sites – as well as to those survivors who were present in the New York City attack zone;
- Clean-up phase injuries or deaths often lead to viable claims. Besides compensating people who were injured or killed on 9/11, the September 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund responds to claims filed on behalf of those who were injured or killed due to the building and debris removal during the clean-up phase that lasted many months;
- Once you’ve filed a first claim and registered with the VCF, you have preserved your right to file another claim in the future. Some people register with the VCF out of concern that they might still later develop a disease or condition directly attributable to the 9/11 event itself (or the clean-up phase). Studies indicate that many New York City residents were harmed by all the toxic substances in the air back during those times;
- There are some strict deadlines that govern different types of claims. You should try to file your claim as soon as you believe you have a legitimate case. You don’t need a WTC Health Program certificate to register with the VCF – however, you should immediately seek that certification after registering with the September 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. (Most information set forth in this section comes from the government’s PDF form about the VCF entitled, “Just the Facts.”)
If you were a first responder or living in what’s come to be known as the basic disaster area or zone around the 9/11 attack location in New York City, you should contact your New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney as soon as possible. We can discuss the facts of your case and help you with all registration and filing needs. We’ll make every effort to see that all your medical claims receive proper attention and timely compensation.