The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is a federally-funded program that compensates victims and survivors of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as well as those affected during the debris removal process.
Eligible recipients include all types of people who were in the area of Ground Zero in the 9 months following 9/11 - first responders, workers, residents, students and tourists.
Certain requirements must be met to be eligible for a VCF award.
1. Must register within the required timeframe - within two years of when you first found out that you suffered physical harm resulting from 9/11 and when you were deemed eligible to file a claim.
· For WTC Health Program members, the “Registration Start Date” – the date that triggers the two-year registration period – is the earlier of:
1. The date of the WTC Health Program certification letter, or
2. The date on which another government entity determined that the physical injury or condition was 9/11-related.
· Per VCF policy, if registration is timely for any condition or injury, all eligible conditions may be considered for an award.
· Registration is the first step in the VCF claims process. You can register with the VCF even if you don’t currently have a certified condition. Registering preserves your right to file a claim later, if needed, but does not commit you to doing so.
2. Must have WTC Health Program certification for treatment of an eligible physical injury or condition that has resulted from the attacks or debris removal process.
· In general, the VCF relies on certification by the WTC Health Program. In very limited cases, conditions may be verified through the VCF Private Physician process.
· The VCF and the WTC Health Program work closely together and exchange information regarding conditions for which you are certified for treatment.
· The VCF cannot process a claim until we receive notification from the WTC Health Program that you have been certified for at least one physical condition.
3. Show presence at one of the three 9/11 crash sites or routes of debris removal at any point from September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002.
· You must have been present at a 9/11 crash site, on routes of debris removal, or at any location within the VCF’s NYC Exposure Zone at any point from September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002.
̶The VCF’s NYC Exposure Zone runs south of Canal Street and is narrower than the WTC Health Program’s “New York City Disaster Area,” which runs south of Houston Street and includes any block in Brooklyn contained within a 1.5-mile radius of the former WTC complex.
· The VCF requires proof of your presence. Documentation to demonstrate presence may include: employer letters, sworn affidavits, worker injury reports, medical records, and lease/mortgage documents.
̶In some cases, the VCF may be able to obtain information to support presence from third-parties, such as the FDNY, NYPD, WTC Health Registry, and other employers and entities.
̶If your claim is denied, we can help you appeal the determination. You may provide testimony under oath at a hearing, which may support a finding of presence.
If applicable, the following criteria must also be met:
4. Must have a dismissal, withdrawal, and/or settlement and release of a 9/11-related lawsuit.
· If you filed a 9/11-related lawsuit, you must demonstrate that the lawsuit was dismissed, withdrawn, and/or settled and released by a specified date.
̶If you cannot demonstrate timely dismissal, withdrawal, and/or settlement and release, you cannot file a claim.
̶If you timely settled a 9/11-related lawsuit, that settlement payment will be deducted from any VCF award as required by the statute.
̶There are special rules for claimants with conditions added by the WTC Health Program after 2011.
· When filing a VCF claim, you waive your right to file (or be a party to) a civil action in any federal or state court for damages sustained as a result of 9/11 crashes or debris removal.
· Note: There are two types of permissible 9/11-related lawsuits: civil actions against terrorists and civil actions to recover collateral source obligations. The pending lawsuit vs. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not impact a VCF claim.
5. Must show new condition or new loss that was not previously compensated for through VCF1.
· If you were compensated under VCF1, you must demonstrate that you suffer from a new condition or have a new loss that was not previously compensated.
· For example:
̶A claimant who received a non-economic loss award in VCF1 for an orthopedic injury sustained while escaping from the World Trade Center and now is certified for cancer may be eligible for additional losses.
̶A claimant who received a non-economic loss award in VCF1 for mild to moderate asthma and who was subsequently determined to be disabled due to asthma may be eligible for additional losses.
6. Must be authorized to act on behalf of the victim if submitting for someone else.
· If someone other than the victim is submitting the claim, that person must prove that they are authorized to act on behalf of the victim.
̶For a deceased victim, this individual is the Personal Representative as appointed by a court.
̶For a minor victim, this is the parent or legal guardian.
Photo source @cliff1066 via Flickr