What Are the Requirements to Qualify for Zadroga Benefits?

More than 16 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pa., Americans still deal with the aftermath daily. These attacks have been tied to a host of physical and emotional health conditions — conditions that you might not have attributed to these attacks previously.

If you lived or worked in downtown Manhattan on or after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — or if you were a first responder or volunteer who helped with the rescue, cleanup, or support efforts — you may be eligible for compensation for past and future lost wages. In addition, you also might be eligible for medical benefits and treatment.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 established the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, both of which were reauthorized in 2015. The VCF is not a health-care program but provides compensation for any individual who suffered harm to their health from the 9/11 terrorist attacks or the immediate cleanup efforts. It also provides for compensation for personal representatives of anyone who was killed as a result of these attacks.

Because of the reauthorization, the VCF can accept claims through December 18, 2020.

Location Requirements for Zadroga Benefits

You can file a claim on behalf of yourself, as a personal representative of a deceased individual, as a parent or guardian of a minor, or as a guardian of a non-minor. To be eligible for benefits under the Zadroga Act and VCF, you’ll first need to establish where the victim was on that fateful day and the following months.

People are eligible for compensation as 9/11 survivors if they lived, worked, or attended school or any type of day-care facility within the NYC Exposure Zone. This encompasses lower Manhattan south of Canal Street, and southwest of East Broadway and Clinton Street. This area includes neighborhoods such as:

  • Chinatown
  • the Lower East Side
  • SoHo
  • Tribeca
  • Greenwich Village
  • Battery Park
  • Bowling Green

The NYC Exposure Zone also covers areas related to or along the routes of debris removal, such as barges and Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. For a detailed map of the exposure zone, please click here.

You also can file a claim if you or your loved one was present at the Pentagon or at the crash site of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa.

Date Requirements for Zadroga Benefits

To apply for compensation under the Zadroga Act and VCF requires proof in supporting documents (as best as you can manage) of the victim’s presence in the NYC Exposure Zone or the other crash sites from September 11, 2001, to May 30, 2002.

Please note: If you or your loved one was an active firefighter working for FDNY on September 11, 2001, VCF will obtain verification of that person’s presence directly from FDNY. You do not need to submit any documentation.

Also, if the victim received an award through the original September 11th Victim Compensation Fund active from 2001 to 2004, you do not need to submit proof of presence to reapply.

All other claimants need to submit two forms of written proof establishing the victim was present within the NYC Exposure Zone or the other sites at the time of the attacks through May 30, 2002. Here are some examples:

  • Employer records, such as a pay stub showing the victim’s dates of work and location, union records, or an official personnel roster or site credentials (for instance, Red Cross or Salvation Army rosters)
  • A utility bill, lease, or rent or mortgage receipts showing the victim’s residence within the exposure zone during this time frame
  • Any school or day care records for adults or children confirming enrollment or attendance during this time period
  • Any orders, instructions, or confirmation of the tasks the victim performed within the exposure zone
  • Medical records documenting treatment as a result of injury that occurred at the crash site
  • Any sworn and notarized affidavits, or unsworn statements complying with federal law, from anyone who can attest to the victim’s presence at the site between the relevant dates

Condition Requirements for Zadroga Benefits

The Zadroga Act also established the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides for treatment and monitoring of specific physical and mental health conditions caused by exposure to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Also covered are medically associated conditions related to the progression or treatment of these conditions.

If the claimant’s injuries or physical conditions have already been certified by a WTC Health Program physician, you do not need to submit any proof of injury.

However, if the victim is not already covered under the WTC Health Program, the VCF requires additional information through a Private Physician Packet.

To apply for compensation, you don’t have to prove that your injury or physical condition is connected to the attacks. But you should have symptoms that you suspect could be related to a condition that the WTC Health Program covers. Some of these include, for example:

  • Cancer of the respiratory system, blood and lymphoid tissue (including lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma), eyes, digestive system, thyroid, urinary system, head and neck, female breast, female reproductive organs, and skin
  • Mesothelioma
  • Acute traumatic injury, such as head trauma, burns, complex sprains, and fractures
  • Aerodigestive disorders, such as asthma, interstitial lung diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic cough syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), or sleep apnea related to one of these conditions
  • Musculoskeletal disorders among first responders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and low back pain

Click here for a full list of related conditions.

How the Marcowitz Law Firm Can Help With Claims for Zadroga Benefits

Edward Marcowitz understands how overwhelming applying for Zadroga Act compensation can seem. He is deeply honored and proud to serve as the personal attorney for the family of James Zadroga, the NYPD detective for whom this benefits act is named.

Marcowitz spearheaded one of the largest pro bono efforts in history helping to recover benefits on behalf of New York City firefighters and their families under the original September 11 Victims Compensation Fund of 2001.

Today, the Marcowitz Law Firm concentrates on representing people injured by toxic exposures from the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. If you have additional questions about applying for benefits or filing a claim, please call us or contact us online now for a free consultation about your options.

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