September 11 Victim Compensation Fund

Edward Marcowitz has virtually unparalleled experience with the Zadroga Act September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. He spearheaded one of the largest pro bono efforts on behalf of New York City firefighters injured by toxic exposures in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their families. He also worked extensively with Special Master Kenneth Feinberg in the original itineration of the fund, helping to recover just under $300 million.

What’s more, Marcowitz is honored and proud to serve as the personal attorney for the family of late NYPD Detective James Zadroga, who holds special significance in the compensation fund’s history.

History of the Fund

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) first operated from 2001 to 2003. It required a Special Master — then Kenneth Feinberg — appointed by the Attorney General. The fund provided compensation for anyone who suffered a physical injury or was killed as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, or the resulting cleanup. It also provided compensation to personal representatives of the deceased.

In 2011, President Barack Obama reactivated the fund by signing the First Responders Bill, also known as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. James Zadroga was a New York City Police Department detective who died in 2006 at age 34 from a respiratory disease. He was the first NYPD officer whose death was attributed to exposure to toxic chemicals at Ground Zero, the site of the former World Trade Center.

The Zadroga Act expanded the pool of applicants who may be eligible for compensation for past and future earnings to include first responders and people who had developed health problems associated with the attacks or cleanup. These health problems include certain illnesses and physical injuries, such as:

  • Cancer (including prostate cancer, skin cancer, breast cancer, and reproductive cancer)
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbated by World Trade Center exposure
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (for first responders and volunteers handling debris)
  • Chronic cough syndrome
  • Chronic rhinosinusitis
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD)
  • Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS)
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Sleep apnea

The act also established the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides medical care and treatment for 9/11-related conditions.

In 2015, President Obama signed a bill reauthorizing the Zadroga Act. This extends the deadline for filing VCF claims to December 31, 2020.

Since 2011, the VCF has received 28,609 eligibility forms, fund statistics show. Of the 21,448 eligibility claims that can be decided, the VCF has approved 16,942 and rendered more than $2.8 billion in compensation.

The mean dollar value of compensation rendered as of December 31, 2016, was about $174,000. The lowest amount of a compensation decision was about $86.

How to Make a VCF Claim

If you were a first responder or volunteer who helped with the rescue efforts or cleanup at any of the sites involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks — the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or the crash site of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. — you may be eligible for compensation for past and future lost wages.

In addition, if you lived, worked, visited downtown Manhattan, or attended school or any adult or child day-care facility in downtown Manhattan on or soon after the attacks, you also might be eligible for an award from the VCF. The VCF’s compensation

Applicants can file for a claim on behalf of themselves, as personal representatives of a deceased person, as a guardian of a non-minor, or as the parent or guardian of a minor.

The VCF first will need to verify where the victim was on September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002.

If you were not a first responder or volunteer, you or your loved one could be eligible for compensation as a 9/11 survivor if you can establish the victim was present within the NYC Exposure Zone during this time period. The NYC Exposure Zone covers lower Manhattan south of Canal Street, as well as southwest of East Broadway and Clinton Street. Affected neighborhoods include:

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

Click here for a detailed map. The NYC Exposure Zone also encompasses areas related to or along debris-removal routes, such as barges and Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island.

To file a claim, you’ll need to submit two forms of written proof establishing the victim’s location, such as:

  • Employer or volunteer records: A pay stub with the victim’s dates of work and location, union records, organization personnel roster, or site credentials
  • Residency records: A lease, rent or mortgage receipts, utility bill showing an address and pertinent dates, driver’s license
  • School or day care records: Any relevant records confirming enrollment or attendance at a school or day-care facility for children or adults
  • Records of tasks performed: Any orders, instructions, or confirmation of the tasks the victim performed within the exposure zone
  • Statements: Any sworn and notarized affidavits, or unsworn statements complying with federal law, from anyone who can attest to the victim’s presence as a first responder, volunteer, or survivor within the NYC Exposure Zone within the relevant dates
  • Medical records: Although the VCF is not a medical program, it also will accept medical records that document treatment as proof of an injury that occurred from responding to or volunteering at a 9/11 crash site, or within the NYC Exposure Zone

Please note: If you or your loved one 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.

Also, if the victim was an active firefighter working for FDNY on September 11, 2001, you do not need to submit any documentation. VCF will obtain verification of that person’s presence directly from FDNY.

How the Marcowitz Law Firm Can Assist You

Today, the Marcowitz Law Firm remains dedicated to representing people injured by toxic exposures during these attacks and their aftermath. Given Edward Marcowitz’s years of experience on behalf of first responders and the Zadroga family, he understands how daunting applying for Zadroga Act compensation through the VCF can seem.

If you have questions about applying for benefits or filing a claim, please call us or contact us online now for a free consultation.

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