9/11 Victim Compensation Fund ─ What It Is and Why You Need a Lawyer

The horrific September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, popularly known as 9/11, remain etched in most minds. Countless lives were lost during the attack, and the tireless rescue teams strived to clear the debris.

Even long after the attacks, its impacts continue to affect many people’s lives, especially those close to Ground Zero, due to the particles affecting air quality. The exposure zone is mainly within a 1.5 miles radius of Ground Zero, covering Houston Street and Lower Manhattan.

The 9/11 victim compensation fund, also called VCF, was established after the devastating events. The fund initially only covered individuals who were injured or lost relatives in the attacks. Since then, VCF has significantly evolved as revisions are implemented to cover a broader bracket.

The changes

The initial VCF ran from 2001 to 2004. However, after discovering the harmful toxins that engulfed Ground Zero and its immediate radius, VCF has been revised to cater to those who may have contracted covered illnesses.

If you or your loved one was in the covered radius between September 2001 and May 2002, you could be eligible for lifetime tax-free compensation. President Obama signed the revised fund into law on January 2011, known as the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.

The reactivated program was to run until 2016, but in 2015 President Obama signed into law a bill extending the VCF for five more years. This allowed the affected individuals to file their claims until December 2020.

In 2019, President Trump signed the popularly known “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.” The Act extended the VCF filing deadline to 2090, giving the affected families sufficient time to seek compensation for the losses suffered.


Why you need a 9/11 victim compensation fund lawyer

The now commonly referred to as the Never Forget the Heroes Act provides a longer period to file your claim. Moreover, the program’s extensive coverage provides financial compensation beyond physical injuries or death. The program covers medical problems, mainly cancers, and respiratory and digestive issues associated with the toxic environment that followed the attack.

The exposure zone also encompasses more than the radius, especially when accounting for other programs like the World Trade Center Health Program associated with the 9/11 disaster. This means more people are covered, including residents, workers, and first respondents in the Exposure Zone.

Such considerations mean filling a claim is complex, which a lawyer can help you navigate. Among the top reasons to enlist a 9/11 victim compensation fund lawyer includes:

Understand the eligibility criteria

Considering the broad coverage, you may find it hard to establish if you or a loved one, especially the deceased, is eligible for the VCF program. You may, for instance, have been diagnosed with a covered condition like cancer but aren’t sure if it can be traced back to the toxins exposure.

Your loved one may have died due to a respiratory condition, but since it may have happened years after the attack, you may not be sure if you could be eligible for compensation.

A lawyer specializing in the 9/11 victim compensation fund knows the programs’ ins and outs, including the multiple revisions. This means they can lay out the eligibility criterion in the simplest way you can easily understand.

Their guidance helps ensure you file an accurate claim based on a thorough investigation of your situation. This increases the chances of securing fair compensation as you file a claim based on verifiable details, not a feeling.


Proof of exposure zone presence

You or your loved one may have been present in the exposure zone, but proving it is tricky. After all, it’s been 20+ years, meaning the necessary evidence to prove presence may not be readily available.

An experienced lawyer can guide you to find the relevant evidence that can prove presence. You may have all the relevant materials to prove eligibility, but your claim is unlikely to be approved if you can’t clearly show your or your loved one’s presence in the exposure zone.

Evidence collection

You may be eligible for VCF, but your claim can easily be denied without the required documentation to prove the situation. For instance, in the case of a deceased loved one, you need a death certificate and other supporting documents, which could be confusing or challenging to access.

A lawyer can ensure no stone remains unturned as you gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim. They can collect and preserve evidence, including medical history and expert opinion of the cause of an ailment or death. Such thoroughness increases the chances of a favorable outcome, making the lawyer invaluable.


Fair benefits

VCF compensation covers an extensive list of expenses, including testing and evaluations, prescription medication, one-time/ongoing treatment, and long-term medical care, and you could also receive lifetime compensation.

This can be tricky to determine, especially when your health insurance or workers’ compensation is brought into the equation. Your lawyer can help you receive fair compensation accounting for all the expenses and other benefits you could be receiving.

In case of deceased loved one, you could be eligible to receive any out-of-pocket expenses you may have incurred. This includes medical testing and treatments and funeral costs, which you can easily fail to consider as you file the claim. The best 9/11 victim compensation fund lawyer ensures you file a comprehensive claim and secure maximum compensation.

Manage appeals

You can easily give in if your VCF claim is denied. This is considering the complexity of the lengthy process, which you may not be so driven to go through again. Your lawyer can do all the heavy lifting as you focus on other aspects of your life. An appeal, especially considering the program’s adjustments, could land you considerable compensation that can help improve your situation.

9/11 victim compensation fund is in place to help people regain as much normalcy as possible following the devastating terrorist attacks. Who can file a claim and what it takes to receive a favorable outcome can be overwhelming, though, as the programs employ strict measures to ensure only eligible claims are compensated.

A lawyer takes the weight off your shoulders, helping you navigate the legal complexities and accurately file a solid claim.

About Nina Smith