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Section 1: Eligibility Criteria and Deadlines

Date effective
June 17, 2020

1.1  Eligibility Criteria  

To be eligible for an award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”), you must meet the following criteria:

  • Register your claim by the July 29, 2021, or other applicable deadline, and submit your complete claim no later than October 1, 2090.
  • Dismiss, withdraw, and/or settle any 9/11-related lawsuits by the appropriate deadline.
  • Show that you have a 9/11-related physical injury or condition that is certified for treatment by the World Trade Center (“WTC”) Health Program or, in limited circumstances, that you have a physical injury or condition that was treated by your private physician and verified as 9/11-related through the VCF’s Private Physician process.
  • Show that you were present at one of the attack sites, within the New York City Exposure Zone, or along the routes of debris removal at some point during the period beginning September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002.
  • If you received an award from the original September 11th Victim Compensation Fund that operated from 2001-2004 (“VCF1”), you must show that the condition has worsened, that the WTC Health Program has certified you for a condition not previously certified, that you have been diagnosed with a new 9/11-related injury or condition that qualifies for verification through the Private Physician process, or that you have a new loss associated with a previously eligible condition.
  • If you are filing a claim on the victim’s behalf (i.e., as a Personal Representative for a deceased victim, for a minor, or for an incapacitated adult), you must show that you have the legal authority to do so.  See Section 1.9 for specific information on demonstrating you have the proper authority to file the claim.

 

1.2  Registration and Claim Filing Deadlines  

There are two steps in the VCF claim filing process, each of which has a separate deadline:

Step 1:  Register by July 29, 2021:

Registration preserves your right to file a claim in the future.  By registering with the VCF, you do not waive any legal rights, and there is no obligation to file a claim in the future.  To register with the VCF you must do one of the following:

  • Use the online system to submit your Registration Form.
  • Call the VCF Helpline at 1-855-885-1555 to register by phone.

The VCF will consider all claims timely if registered within two years of July 29, 2019, the date of enactment of the Never Forget the Heroes, James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act (“VCF Permanent Authorization Act”), which extended the VCF’s claim filing deadline.  This means that every claim already registered with the VCF is timely, and all claims registered prior to July 29, 2021, will be timely.  Claims registered after July 29, 2021, may be timely depending on the individual circumstances.   

Step 2:  Complete and submit your claim form and all supporting documents by October 1, 2090:

Although you may register with the VCF at any time prior to July 29, 2021, you should wait to file your claim until you have been certified for treatment by the WTC Health Program for a 9/11-related physical condition.  The deadline for all claims and supporting documents to be submitted is October 1, 2090.

 

1.3  9/11-Related Lawsuits  

As a general rule, you cannot have an active 9/11-related lawsuit at the time you submit your VCF claim or amend your claim to add a new eligible condition. There are specific requirements for the date on which your 9/11-related lawsuit must have been filed, withdrawn, dismissed, or settled and released in order to be eligible for compensation from the VCF. The statute that created the VCF provides that you may either seek compensation from the VCF or you may file a lawsuit, but you cannot do both except under certain circumstances as explained below.

a. Waiver of right to file future lawsuits  

When you submit a VCF claim, you waive your right to file a civil action (or to be a party to an action) in any federal or state court for damages sustained as a result of the terrorist- related aircraft crashes of 9/11, or for damages arising from or related to debris removal. This means that you waive your right to be party to a future lawsuit even before the VCF determines whether or not you are entitled to compensation. For deceased individuals, the Personal Representative will waive his/her rights to file any future action seeking compensation for the decedent's death. The statute may be interpreted to mean that the submission of a claim for a deceased individual will waive the rights of others who may claim the right to file a wrongful death action.

There are two exceptions to this general “waiver” rule – that is, there are two types of permissible lawsuits that you can pursue and still file a claim with the VCF:

  • A civil action to recover collateral source obligations.
  • A civil action against any person who is a "knowing participant in any conspiracy to hijack any aircraft or commit any terrorist act." This includes lawsuits based on theories of aiding and abetting or assisting an attempt to commit a terrorist act.

b.  Permissible lawsuits  

As noted above, there are two types of 9/11-related lawsuits that you can pursue and still file a claim with the VCF. First, you may pursue a civil action to recover collateral source obligations. Collateral sources are defined by the statute to mean all sources, including life insurance, pension funds, death benefit programs, settlement payments from September 11th-related lawsuits, and payments by federal, state, or local governments related to the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001, or debris removal. Second, you may pursue a civil action against any person who is a "knowing participant in any conspiracy to hijack any aircraft or commit any terrorist act." This includes lawsuits based on theories of aiding and abetting or assisting an attempt to commit a terrorist act. Examples of lawsuits that fall into this category include (but are not limited to) the following lawsuits filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York:

  • Gallop v. Riggs National Corp., et al. (Docket No. 1:04-cv-07281-GBD-FM)
  • Burnett, et al v. Al Baraka Investment (Docket No. 1:03-cv-05738-GBD)
  • Ashton, et al v. Al Qaeda Islamic, et al. (Docket No. 1:02-cv-06977-GBD-FM)

Claimants who participate in a lawsuit under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (“JASTA”), Pub. Law No. 114-222, may still file a VCF claim. See Zadroga Act, Pub. Law No 107-42, as amended by Pub. Law No. 107-71, Section 405(c)(3)(C)(i). Any compensation awarded by the court in the lawsuit or obtained in a settlement of litigation will be treated as an offset and deducted from your VCF award.

c.  If you withdrew or dismissed your lawsuit without settlement   

If you had filed a 9/11-related lawsuit at any time prior to submitting a VCF claim, there are specific dates by which you must have withdrawn or dismissed that lawsuit in order to be eligible for compensation from the VCF.

Under 28 C.F.R. § 104.61, any person who has filed or is a party to a lawsuit seeking damages for injuries “sustained as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001, or for damages arising from or related to debris removal” may not “file a claim with the Special Master unless they withdraw from such action not later than January 2, 2012.”

Required documentation for withdrawn 9/11-related lawsuits: You must submit proof of timely withdrawal of your lawsuit with your claim. You may submit either a court order establishing that the action has been discontinued and/or dismissed, dated on or before January 2, 2012, or a notice/letter of withdrawal filed on the Electronic Case Files (“ECF”) system in the relevant docket on or before January 2, 2012. You must also submit the final order of the court confirming the withdrawal or dismissal of all claims. That order may be dated after January 2, 2012, only if you have provided proof that you filed a notice of withdrawal on the ECF system in the relevant docket on or before January 2, 2012.

Rule for Newly Covered Conditions and Lawsuits Filed Before November 2016:[1] If the condition for which you are seeking compensation from the VCF was added to the list of qualified injuries after January 2, 2012, your proof of timely withdrawal or dismissal from any lawsuit must be dated no later than the date you submit your claim or amendment seeking compensation for that condition. The court order establishing that the action has been discontinued and/or dismissed, or the notice/letter of withdrawal filed on the ECF system in the relevant docket, must be dated on or before the date you submit your claim or amendment. In cases meeting these criteria, where withdrawal or dismissal occurred after January 2, 2012, only newly covered conditions will be considered eligible for compensation. This means that even if you have other certified or verified conditions, regardless of when they were certified or verified, they will not be eligible for compensation unless they were added to the list of qualified injuries after January 2, 2012, and you withdrew or dismissed your lawsuit prior to filing your claim or amendment.

d.  If you settled your lawsuit  

If you had filed a 9/11-related lawsuit prior to submitting a VCF claim and settled any of the claims set forth in the lawsuit, there are specific dates by which you must have tendered a release of the settled claims and dismissed any remaining unsettled claims.

The VCF will accept claims with settled 9/11-related lawsuits if you meet the following conditions:

  1. The lawsuit was commenced after December 22, 2003, and a release of claims in such lawsuit was tendered by the individual, or by the individual's attorney (provided the attorney has authority to tender the release) prior to January 2, 2011; and
  2. You dismissed any claims that were not settled on or before January 2, 2012.

You may have settled all your claims and, in that case, as long as the lawsuit was commenced after December 22, 2003, and the release was tendered by January 2, 2011, you can submit a claim to the VCF. The Zadroga Act states that if an individual tendered a release after the Zadroga Act was enacted on January 2, 2011, the individual is not eligible for the VCF.

Note: The VCF cannot provide information about private settlements. The VCF is a Federal Government program and is separate from the lawsuits between individuals and the Port Authority, the Captive Insurer, and others. Individuals with questions about those settlements should contact their lawyers.

The Zadroga Act provides that the award from settlements in civil suits regarding injuries related to 9/11 will be counted as a collateral source offset. Therefore, settlement payments from lawsuits will be deducted from VCF awards.

Required documentation for settled lawsuits:

You must certify on your claim form that you have satisfied the requirements for settling your lawsuit. In many cases, the VCF can obtain additional information from third parties.  If the VCF is unable to obtain the required settlement information from third parties, we will contact you and you will be required to provide the settlement information before we can continue processing your claim.

If you were represented by Douglas & London or Napoli, Bern, Ripka, Shkolnik (“Napoli Bern”) in your lawsuit, you generally do not need to submit additional documents related to your settlement because the VCF may be able to get the necessary information from Douglas & London or Napoli Bern. If you were represented by Sullivan Papain Block McGrath and Cannavo (“Sullivan Papain”) in both your lawsuit and your VCF claim, the VCF may be able to get the necessary information from Sullivan Papain. The VCF will notify you if you need to submit any additional documents.

For all other individuals, the VCF generally needs proof documenting the amount of your settlement and the dates of commencement and release of all claims in the lawsuit. If an attorney signed and submitted the release on behalf of the individual or the individual's dependent, spouse, or beneficiary, a copy of the retainer agreement with the attorney in the settled lawsuit must be submitted as proof that the attorney was authorized to sign the release. If you do not have any of these documents, you may still submit your claim form because the VCF may be able to obtain them from third parties. The VCF will notify you if additional information is needed.

All Claimants who received coverage for certain cancers under a Critical Injury Insurance policy through Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) as part of their 9/11-related lawsuit settlement are required to provide the VCF with a copy of their policy document and the amount of any payment received under the policy.

Rule for Newly Covered Conditions and Lawsuits Filed Before November 16, 2016:[2] If the condition for which you are seeking compensation from the VCF was added to the list of qualified injuries after January 2, 2012, you must meet the following requirements in order to be eligible for compensation from the VCF:

  1. Your acceptance of settlement and release of claims must have been tendered on or before the date on which the condition for which you are seeking compensation was added to the list of qualified injuries by the World Trade Center Health Program.
  2. Your proof of timely withdrawal or dismissal of any remaining claims must be dated no later than the date you submit your claim or amendment seeking compensation for that condition. The court order establishing that the action has been discontinued and/or dismissed, or the notice/letter of withdrawal filed on the ECF system in the relevant docket, must be dated on or before the date you submit your claim or amendment.

In cases meeting these criteria, where settlement occurred after January 2, 2011, only newly covered conditions will be considered eligible for compensation. This means that even if you have other certified or verified conditions, regardless of when they were certified or verified, they will not be eligible for compensation unless they were added to the list of qualified injuries after January 2, 2012, you settled and released your lawsuit prior to the date the specific condition was added to the list of qualified injuries, and you properly withdrew or dismissed any remaining lawsuits prior to filing your claim or amendment.

The chart below outlines the litigation settlement, withdrawal, and dismissal rules for filing a VCF claim.

Chart of Litigation Settlement/Dismissal Rules

Settlement and/or Dismissal?

Lawsuit Filing Date

Date by which lawsuit must be Dismissed/Withdrawn/Settled

Settlement of all Claims

After 12/22/2003 and before November 16, 2016

For conditions on original WTC Health Program list or traumatic injuries:

  • Settled fully and release tendered on or before January 2, 2011.

For newly covered conditions:

  • Settled fully and release tendered on or before the date on which NIOSH added the individual’s eligible condition to the list of qualified physical injuries.  Those dates are:
    • October 12, 2012, for the various cancers identified in the WTC Health Program rule of the same date
    • October 21, 2013, for Prostate Cancer
    • February 18, 2014, for Rare Cancers that meet the definition as explained by the WTC Health Program on the same date
    • August 4, 2016, for New-Onset COPD

 

This is condition specific – that is, timely settlement/ release based on specific conditions does not render earlier conditions for which an individual may be certified or verified (on which a lawsuit was not timely settled/released) eligible for compensation.  This is true regardless of the date on which the earlier condition is certified or verified.

Settlement + Dismissal: Lawsuit Partially Settled and Unsettled Claims Dismissed

After 12/22/2003 and before November 16, 2016

For conditions on original WTC Health Program list or traumatic injuries:

  • Release tendered on or before January 2, 2011.
  • Unsettled claims withdrawn/dismissed on or before January 2, 2012.

For newly covered conditions:

  • Release tendered before the date on which the WTC Health Program added the individual’s eligible condition to the list of qualified physical injuries.
  • Unsettled claims withdrawn/dismissed before submitting the VCF claim form or amendment.

 

This is condition specific – that is, timely settlement/release/dismissal based on specific conditions does not render earlier conditions for which an individual may be certified or verified (on which a lawsuit was not timely settled/released/dismissed) eligible for compensation. This is true regardless of the date on which the earlier condition is certified or verified.

Dismissal: Lawsuit Fully Dismissed or Withdrawn (no settlement)

Before November 16, 2016

For conditions on original WTC Health Program list or traumatic injuries:

  • Dismissal/withdrawal before January 2, 2012 (notice of withdrawal will suffice).

For newly covered conditions:

  • Dismissal/withdrawal before submitting the VCF claim or amendment (notice of withdrawal will suffice).

 

This is condition specific – that is, timely dismissal based on specific conditions does not render earlier conditions for which an individual may be certified or verified (on which a lawsuit was not timely dismissed) eligible for compensation. This is true regardless of the date on which the earlier condition is certified or verified.

 

1.4  Eligible Conditions (WTC-Related Physical Health Conditions)   

To be eligible for compensation from the VCF, you must have a physical injury or condition caused by the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001, or the rescue, recovery, and debris removal efforts during the immediate aftermath. The statute requires that, to be eligible, you must have at least one WTC-Related Physical Health Condition.  

a. Presumptively covered conditions eligible for compensation:  

To be eligible for compensation, the Zadroga Act requires an individual to have suffered “physical harm or death as a result of” one of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001, or debris removal. Generally, the VCF provides compensation for the physical injuries and conditions that the WTC Health Program has found to be related to 9/11 and therefore are on the list of conditions established by the WTC Health Program. Thus, as a general matter, the VCF will rely on certification by the WTC Health Program that the individual is eligible for treatment for a particular physical injury or condition under the WTC Health Program.  By statute, the VCF may not compensate for psychological conditions, but the WTC Health Program provides mental health treatment as part of their healthcare services.  Please see Section 1.4.e for more information specific to mental health conditions.

Listed below are the categories of physical health injuries and conditions that may be certified by the WTC Health Program (“presumptively covered conditions”). This list includes the most recent additions to the list effective as of August 4, 2016. This list includes only major categories of conditions and is not meant to represent every type of eligible injury that falls within each category:

  • Interstitial Lung Diseases
  • Chronic Respiratory Disorder – Fumes/Vapors
  • Asthma
  • Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (“RADS”)
  • WTC-exacerbated Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (“COPD”)
  • New Onset Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (“COPD”)
  • Chronic Cough Syndrome
  • Upper Airway Hyper Reactivity
  • Chronic Rhinosinusitis
  • Chronic Nasopharyngitis
  • Chronic Laryngitis
  • Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disorder (“GERD”)
  • Sleep Apnea exacerbated by, associated with, or related to, the above conditions
  • Low Back Pain occurring in responders
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (“CTS”) occurring in responders
  • Certain Musculoskeletal Disorders (“MSK”) occurring in responders and defined as “a chronic or recurrent disorder of the musculoskeletal system caused by heavy lifting or repetitive strain on the joints or musculoskeletal system occurring during” the period between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, or as determined by the Special Master (Note: the VCF may compensate MSK in survivors if appropriate proof is provided)
  • Acute Traumatic Injuries – the WTC Health Program defines acute traumatic injury as an injury “caused by and occurring immediately after a one-time exposure to energy such as heat, electricity or impact from a crash or fall, resulting from a specific event or incident” for which the claimant received medical treatment on or before September 11, 2003

Certain types of cancer as specified in the chart below:

Head & Neck

  • Malignant neoplasm of lip
  • Malignant neoplasm of base of tongue
  • Malignant neoplasm of other and unspecified parts of tongue
  • Malignant neoplasm of parotid gland
  • Malignant neoplasm of other and unspecified major salivary glands
  • Malignant neoplasm of floor of mouth
  • Malignant neoplasm of gum
  • Malignant neoplasm of palate
  • Malignant neoplasm of other and unspecified parts of mouth
  • Malignant neoplasm of tonsil
  • Malignant neoplasm of oropharynx
  • Malignant neoplasm of nasopharynx
  • Malignant neoplasm of piriform sinus
  • Malignant neoplasm of the hypopharynx
  • Malignant neoplasm of other and ill-defined conditions in the lip, oral cavity and pharynx
  • Malignant neoplasms of nasal cavity
  • Malignant neoplasm of accessory sinuses
  • Malignant neoplasm of the larynx

Mesothelioma Prostate Cancer Soft Tissue

  • Malignant neoplasm of peripheral nerves and autonomic nervous system
  • Malignant neoplasm of other connective and soft tissue

 

Skin (Non Melanoma)

  • Other malignant neoplasms of skin
  • Scrotum

 

Melanoma

  • Malignant melanoma of skin

Digestive System

  • Malignant neoplasm of the esophagus
  • Malignant neoplasm of the stomach
  • Malignant neoplasm of the colon
  • Malignant neoplasm of rectosigmoid junction
  • Malignant neoplasm of the rectum
  • Malignant neoplasm of other and ill-defined digestive organs
  • Malignant neoplasm of the liver and intrahepatic bile ducts
  • Malignant neoplasms of retroperitoneum and peritoneum

 

Respiratory System

  • Malignant neoplasms of the trachea
  • Malignant neoplasm of bronchus and lung
  • Malignant neoplasm of heart, mediastinum and pleura
  • Malignant neoplasm of other and ill-defined sites in the respiratory system and intrathoracic organs

 

Rare Cancers – defined as “any type of cancer that occurs in less than 15 cases per 100,000 persons per year in the United States.” Some examples of cancer that meet the “rare cancer” definition include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Malignant neoplasm of the testis
  • Neuroendocrine malignancies
  • Malignant neoplasm of the male breast
  • Malignant neoplasm of the gallbladder/biliary tract
  • Malignant neoplasm of the small intestine
  • Malignant neoplasm of the thymus
  • Malignant neoplasm of the central nervous system
  • Malignant neoplasm of the adrenal gland
  • Gastrointestinal stromal malignancies
  • Malignant neoplasm of the penis

Female Reproductive Organs

  • Malignant neoplasm of ovary

 

Urinary System

  • Malignant neoplasm of bladder
  • Malignant neoplasm of the kidney except renal pelvis
  • Malignant neoplasm of renal pelvis
  • Malignant neoplasm of ureter
  • Malignant neoplasm of other and unspecified urinary organs

 

Eye & Orbit

  • Malignant neoplasms of eye and adnexa

 

Thyroid

  • Malignant neoplasm of thyroid gland

 

Blood & Lymphoid Tissue

  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Follicular (nodular) non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Diffuse non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Peripheral and cutaneous T-cell lymphomas
  • Other and unspecified types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Malignant immunoproliferative diseases
  • Multiple myeloma and malignant plasma cell neoplasms
  • Lymphoid leukemia
  • Myeloid leukemia
  • Monocytic leukemia
  • Other leukemias of specified cell type
  • Leukemia of unspecified cell type
  • Myeloid malignancies
  • Other and unspecified malignant neoplasms of lymphoid, hematopoietic and related tissue

 

Childhood Cancers – defined as “any type of cancer diagnosed in a person less than 20 years of age.

 

Breast

Malignant neoplasm of breast

 

b.  Minimum and Maximum Time Intervals:   

The WTC Health Program has set specific minimum and maximum timeframes between an individual’s 9/11 exposure and the onset of symptoms related to an eligible physical injury or condition. These timeframes are different for each category of injuries and conditions. The WTC Health Program’s general guidelines are summarized below. We encourage you to visit the WTC Health Program website to understand the complete details for each specific injury and condition and the process used to evaluate each individual’s unique circumstances.

  • Cancers: The WTC Health Program Administrator has determined minimum time periods for five types or categories of cancer eligible for coverage in the WTC Health Program.  The Administrator has determined that a minimum time period – referred to as “latency” – must have elapsed between the initial date of an individual’s exposure and the date of initial diagnosis of the individual’s cancer.  Details on the latency periods for cancer can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/pdfs/policies/WTCHP-Minimum-Cancer-Latency-PP-01062015-508.pdf.
  • Aerodigestive Disorders:  The WTC Health Program Administrator has determined maximum time intervals for four of the five categories of eligible aerodigestive disorders: obstructive airways, upper respiratory diseases, gastroesophageal reflux disease (“GERD”) co-occurring with another WTC-related aerodigestive disorder, and isolated GERD.  The time interval is measured based on the last day of an individual’s 9/11 exposure and the earliest date of an individual’s symptoms of the aerodigestive disorder.  The fifth category, interstitial lung disease, has no associated maximum time interval.  Details on the maximum time intervals for aerodigestive disorders can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/pdfs/WTCHP_PP_Time_Intervals_New_Onset_AeroDig_Disorders_30_August_2017.pdf.  
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders and Acute Traumatic Injuries: There is a statutory deadline of treatment on or before September 11, 2003, for musculoskeletal disorders and a similar deadline imposed by regulation for treatment of acute traumatic injuries. See 42 U.S.C. § 300mm-22(a)(4) ); 42 C.F.R. § 88.15(e).

c.  Additional Information about presumptively covered eligible conditions:  

  • The VCF considers modifications to the list of presumptively covered conditions based on the determinations of the WTC Health Program. The initial list of presumptively covered conditions has been modified four times since the VCF reopened on October 3, 2011 – first on October 12, 2012, when certain cancers were added; a second time on October 21, 2013, when Prostate Cancer was added; a third time on February 18, 2014, when the definition of Rare Cancers was revised; and a fourth time on August 4, 2016, when new-onset COPD and WTC-related acute traumatic injury were added.
  • If you have at least one certified or verified 9/11-related physical injury or condition and meet all of the eligibility criteria to receive compensation, you may also be eligible for payment for other physical injuries or conditions that are not included on the list of presumptively covered conditions (and that are therefore not certified or verified) and that resulted from your 9/11 exposure if you have presented extraordinary circumstances. The Special Master exercises this discretion only in very limited circumstances.
  • If you have an eligible 9/11-related physical condition, it does not mean that you are guaranteed to be compensated by the VCF. Having an eligible condition is only one of the necessary criteria for compensation. All of the eligibility criteria must be met to receive compensation.
  • The Zadroga Act and the final rules limit compensation to individuals who were treated by a medical professional for the physical injury or condition within a reasonable time from the date of discovering the injury or condition. Treatment must be verified by contemporaneous medical records created by, or at the direction of, the medical professional who provided the medical care. A “reasonable time” is determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • If you developed your 9/11-related physical injury or condition before September 11, 2001 (a “pre-existing” condition), you may still be eligible for compensation if your condition has become more severe since that time and the worsening of the condition is determined to be related to the events of September 11th or the debris removal efforts.
  • The VCF considers “medically associated” conditions in determining the appropriate amount of compensation. The WTC Health Program defines a health condition  medically associated with a WTC-related health condition as a condition that either: (1) “results from treatment of a WTC-related health condition,” or (2) “results from progression of a WTC-related health condition.” The VCF recognizes that, in some cases, those conditions that are medically associated with an eligible WTC-related condition may be more severe and/or have a greater impact on the victim’s life than the underlying condition.
  • If, at any point after you submit your original claim, the WTC Health Program certifies you for a physical health condition not previously certified, or you are diagnosed with a new 9/11- related injury or condition that qualifies for verification through the Private Physician process, you may file an amendment to claim additional conditions by following the instructions in How to File an Amendment.  The instructions are also available on the "Resources" tab, under “Forms and Resources” on the VCF website.

d.  Certification and verification of conditions – WTC Health Program or Private Physician process:

If your physical injury or condition is certified for treatment by the WTC Health Program, the VCF will generally find the injury or condition eligible subject to confirmation that other elements of eligibility, including presence at the site, are documented. If you are not being treated by the WTC Health Program, you must seek certification for your condition(s) through the WTC Health Program.  The VCF has implemented this policy in order to ensure consistency among victims in evaluating the conditions eligible for compensation, and clarity in evaluating an individual victim’s WTC-related exposure.  In very limited circumstances (set forth below), the VCF may evaluate the eligibility of the physical injury or condition through the Private Physician process, subject to verification by the Special Master with the assistance of the WTC Health Program Administrator. 

Please note that you can seek certification for treatment from the WTC Health Program for purposes of your VCF claim and still be treated for your certified condition by a physician outside of the WTC Health Program. To begin the certification process with the WTC Health Program, you can find an application on line at www.cdc.gov/wtc or by calling 1-888-982-4748. The WTC Health Program includes a Nationwide Provider Network (“NPN”) to serve members who live outside the New York City metropolitan area. The NPN is available to WTC, Pentagon, and Shanksville responders and WTC survivors. For information about the NPN call 1-888-982-4748. If you are enrolled and if the WTC Health Program confirms that it has certified your condition for treatment, then it will be able to provide the VCF with information about your certified condition(s). For further details on the WTC Health Program process and guidelines, please visit the WTC Health Program website

Please be aware that the WTC Health Program will prioritize patients who need treatment for appointments over those seeking certifications to support their VCF claims.  Please respect that the mission of the WTC Health Program is to provide medical treatment to those who are ill, and do not attempt to expedite your appointment unless you are in need of medical care.

Documents Required for Individuals Enrolled in the WTC Health Program

Once the VCF receives your Claim Form and the original, completed Exhibit A – “Authorization for Release of Medical Records”- the VCF will request information directly from the WTC Health Program to determine whether you have an eligible condition. The VCF will also seek information from the WTC Health Program for deceased individuals who were treated by the WTC Health Program prior to death, upon submission of an Exhibit A by the victim’s authorized Personal Representative.  If the WTC Health Program notifies us that you have been certified for an eligible physical health condition, we accept that certification as proof of your eligible condition, subject to the other requirements for eligibility. If your condition is certified for treatment by the WTC Health Program, you do not need to submit any other records to support or demonstrate your condition.

Please note that the VCF does not receive copies of your medical records as part of our information-sharing agreement with the WTC Health Program. The WTC Health Program only provides the VCF with the name of the condition, the WTC Health Program category under which the condition falls (for example, Cancer or Upper Respiratory Disorder), and the associated medical diagnosis code.

If the WTC Health Program has certified your condition, you do not need to submit medical records to support a claim for non-economic loss at the lowest end of the range for your eligible condition.  Similarly, if you have an eligible condition that the VCF has identified as presumptively severe and debilitating, you do not need to submit medical records to qualify for the highest non-economic loss award allowed by the statutory caps.  See Section 2.1.a – “Valuation of non-economic loss” for a listing of conditions considered to be presumptively severe. If, however, your certified condition is not among the list of conditions that the VCF considers to be presumptively severe and it significantly impairs activities of daily living, or if the certification does not reflect the severity of the condition, you may want to submit supporting medical documentation related to your condition to help the VCF evaluate the severity and effect of the condition in order to determine whether an increased non-economic loss award within the appropriate range is warranted.  For a listing of the types of documents that can assist the VCF in the evaluation of your claim, see Section 2.1.b – “Documentation of non-economic loss”.  Please only submit documents that are related to your 9/11-related eligible physical conditions.  It is very helpful and will speed the review of your claim if you highlight the relevant information in the records so the VCF can easily find the pertinent information.

Private Physician Process

The Private Physician process is available only in the following limited circumstances:

  • You received specific direction from the VCF to compete the forms; or
  • You are filing a claim for a deceased individual who was not certified for treatment by the WTC Health Program for the claimed condition; or
  • You are a foreign resident, living outside the continental United States, who has not been certified for treatment by the WTC Health Program for the claimed condition; or
  • You were previously deemed eligible for compensation from the VCF based on a certified condition, or you are filing a claim for a deceased individual who was previously deemed eligible for compensation from the VCF based on a certified condition, and you are now seeking to add a non-certified cancer as a claimed condition; or
  • You were present at the Pentagon, but not as a responder, and therefore you do not qualify for certification by the WTC Health Program; or
  • You are not able to go to a WTC Health Program center (either in the New York City metropolitan area or through the Nationwide Provider Network) to have your condition evaluated and certified for treatment without suffering significant hardship.  If you believe that you will suffer significant hardship in seeking certification by the WTC Health Program, you should upload a statement or letter to the claim explaining the circumstances and why you should be considered for the Private Physician process and call the VCF Helpline to alert us to the request. 

If the VCF determines that you are an appropriate candidate for the Private Physician process, the VCF will contact you and ask you to provide certain medical records and other information from a non-WTC Health Program physician. The VCF will review the information and, as appropriate, will submit the information to the WTC Health Program for assistance in verifying that your condition meets the definition of a 9/11-related condition. 

In all other cases, we will not process your claim until we receive notification from the WTC Health Program that you have been certified for at least one physical condition.

The forms and instructions, as well as more detailed information on the Private Physician process, are available here and under “Forms and Resources” on the VCF website.

Note: The VCF is not able to pay any physician for providing this information or documentation. The VCF does not require any of the forms to be completed by your physician; you may complete the “Treating Physician Information Form.”

e.  Mental Illness:  

If you did not experience any physical injury or condition as a result of September 11th, but you experienced emotional or mental harm, you are not eligible for compensation from the VCF. When Congress first created the VCF in 2001, it directed that only victims who have a “physical injury” can be eligible for the VCF, and then-Special Master Ken Feinberg interpreted that phrase to mean “a physical injury to the body,” thus excluding claims for psychological conditions. Congress has not directed otherwise, and the Reauthorized Zadroga Act explicitly prohibits the VCF from compensating for Mental Health Conditions. As a result, the VCF is not able to accept claims solely for psychological conditions. This means that claims for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are not eligible for compensation in the VCF.

The WTC Health Program provides options for treatment of psychological conditions. For information about whether you may be eligible for WTC Health Program treatment for emotional or mental harms, you may contact them by phone at 1-888-WTC-HP4U (1-888- 982-4748), or on the web at www.cdc.gov/wtc/.

 

1.5  Presence at Site 

In order to be eligible for compensation under the VCF, an individual must have been present at a 9/11 crash site or in locations of debris removal at the time of – or in the immediate aftermath of – the terrorist-related aircraft crashes. You do not have to be a responder to be eligible.

a.  Location:  

To be eligible for the VCF, you must have been at one of the following locations:

9/11 crash sites:

  • The World Trade Center site, the Pentagon site, or the Shanksville, Pennsylvania, site
  • The buildings or portions of buildings that were destroyed as a result of the terrorist- related airplane crashes of September 11, 2001

 The “NYC Exposure Zone” which consists of:

  • The area in Manhattan south of the line that runs along Canal Street from the Hudson River to the intersection of Canal Street and East Broadway, north on East Broadway to Clinton Street, and east on Clinton Street to the East River; AND
  • Any area related to, or along, routes of debris removal, such as barges and Fresh Kills landfill[3]

If you were an employee of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City (“OCME”) involved in the examination and handling of human remains from the World Trade Center attacks, or were a morgue worker who performed similar functions for the OCME staff, during the period September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002, and you submit sufficient proof of employment and presence at one of the morgue locations within the statutory timeframe, this will satisfy the presence requirement even if your actual work was performed outside of the NYC Exposure Zone.

If your work involved the repair, cleaning, or rehabilitation of vehicles or equipment contaminated by WTC-related debris at or along one of the official routes for the transfer of debris, the work will be considered to be done in an area related to, or along, routes of debris removal, even if those services were performed outside of the area in Manhattan south of the line that runs along Canal Street. Because different routes of debris removal were in use at different time periods, you must submit proof not only that you performed those services during the statutory timeframe (at some point on or between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002), but also that you performed those services before the operations at the identified locations officially ended.

b.  Timeframe:   

To be eligible, individuals must have been present at one of the sites at the time or in the “immediate aftermath” of the September 11th air crashes. The Zadroga Act defines “immediate aftermath” as “any period beginning with the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001, and ending on May 30, 2002.” There are no requirements for the minimum amount of time an individual needed to be at a site for purposes of confirming presence. The VCF must apply the time limitations that Congress established in the Zadroga Act.[4]

 

1.6  Documentation of Presence 

The documents listed below are examples of the most common types of documents used to demonstrate presence at a 9/11 site. This is not a comprehensive list. If you have a document that you believe can be used to prove your presence at a 9/11 site and it does not meet one of the categories below, you should submit the document to the VCF to be reviewed. The VCF considers the totality of the circumstances in each individual case, and will consider a wide range of documents to support presence.  All documents submitted for a claim are subject to verification and authentication procedures undertaken independently by the VCF.

There are a few reasons why the VCF may ask for additional proof of presence, even in cases where you submit an “independent” document from a third-party, such as an employer or a landlord.  First, all documents submitted for a claim are subject to verification and authentication procedures undertaken independently by the VCF.  Confirmation of presence that is sent directly to the VCF from the employer or other third-party, with specific dates and locations, is usually sufficient to verify presence.  If, however, the document you submit does not provide sufficient detail regarding your presence (i.e., your actual work location and confirmation that you were present at that location at some point during the requisite time period), the VCF will contact the employer or other third-party in an attempt to obtain additional details.  If we are unable to confirm presence by speaking with the employer or other contact, and the other presence documents, if any, are insufficient, we will contact you to request additional proof of presence.

The VCF has agreements with certain employers to provide information about presence in support of VCF claims.  See Section 1.6.b for additional information.

Note: these documents are only considered if they include specific dates and locations.

  • Letter from employer confirming work at the site – the VCF prefers letters from employers be sent directly to the VCF by the employer, rather than provided to the VCF by the claimant
  • Official personnel roster
  • Pay stubs listing the employer’s address within the NYC Exposure Zone and confirming employment, when used in conjunction with other documents
  • Orders, instructions, site credentials, confirmation of tasks performed
  • Sworn Employer Verification Form (available under “Forms and Resources” on the VCF website) - the VCF prefers this form be sent directly to the VCF by the employer, rather than provided to the VCF by the claimant
  • Rental agreement, proof of rent payment, mortgage receipts, and/or utility bills that list the address within the NYC Exposure Zone, when submitted in conjunction with other documents showing the individual was physically at the address during the relevant timeframe
  • School or day care records and transcripts confirming enrollment or attendance during the relevant time period – the school transcript or report card, or day care records, should be certified or accompanied by a letter from an employee of the school or day care facility, and/or from the claimant’s legal counsel, certifying the accuracy of the information contained in the transcript, report card, or other record (NOTE: If the school o day care records are either certified themselves or submitted with a certifying letter, you do not need to submit any additional proof of presence unless requested by the VCF.)
  • Worker’s injury reports documenting treatment as a result of injury that occurred at the site
  • Medical records documenting treatment as a result of injury that occurred at the site during the immediate aftermath of the attacks
  • Sworn and notarized affidavit (or unsworn statements complying with 28 U.S.C. § 1746) – see Section 1.6.a below for additional detail.
  • Personal statement including as much detail as possible.

VCF1 Claims: If you were found eligible to receive compensation in VCF1, in most cases, you do not need to submit proof of presence in support of your claim. The VCF will contact you if any additional information is needed. See Section 1.7 for more information about VCF1 claims.

a.  Affidavits in support of presence at site:   

Primary and contemporaneous records prepared in the ordinary course of business and documents prepared by an employer, school, day care, or residential office for the purpose of verifying an individual’s presence at the site are the best evidence that an individual was present at a 9/11 crash site.  The Special Master recognizes, however, that such documents may no longer exist or may be impossible to obtain. If you are unable to obtain these types of documents, the Special Master will consider sworn affidavits from people who can attest to the victim’s presence at a 9/11 crash site. These affidavits will serve as acceptable proof only if the VCF determines that such affidavits are sufficiently reliable.

The person who signs an affidavit is known as an “affiant.” Affiants must have personal knowledge of the victim’s presence at a 9/11 crash site or along the routes of debris removal. In general, affiants must show that they directly observed the victim at the eligible location, or must have been a supervisor who ordered the victim to that location and has knowledge that the victim in fact reported to the location.

If you submit affidavits to demonstrate the victim’s presence on 9/11, you must submit affidavits from a minimum of two people and at least one must be from an individual who is not related to the victim or to the Personal Representative (when applicable).

Affidavits should contain as much detail as possible about how the affiant knows that the individual was physically present at a 9/11 crash site and when the individual was present at the site. For example, affidavits should describe what the affiant and the individual were doing at the 9/11 crash site, the specific location where they were at the 9/11 crash site (address, intersection, building, or other geographic details are helpful; as a general rule, more is needed than just “Ground Zero”), why they were at the 9/11 crash site, how long and often they were there together, and how the affiant knows and remembers that the individual was present on the particular dates and at the particular locations.

As a general rule, when an affidavit does not meet VCF requirements, the VCF will not call the affiant for the purpose of gathering the necessary detail and information regarding the victim’s presence.  Affiants are called when we need to understand an inconsistency, confirm what appears to be an error (such as 2011 instead of 2001), or to verify information already contained in the affidavit.  Therefore, you must provide as much detail as possible on the affidavit itself.  Failure to provide detailed affidavits will result in the VCF sending the claimant a “Missing Information” letter, which may result in the claim being denied if the VCF is unable to get the additional detailed information needed to verify the victim’s presence.

All affidavits must contain the following information:

  • A description of how the affiant knows that the victim was present. For example, an affiant may know that the individual was at the site because the affiant was the supervisor or co-worker of the individual and accompanied the individual to the site or personally saw the individual at the site.
  • As much detail as possible about the precise times, specific dates, and specific locations (address, intersection, landmarks, cross streets, buildings or other geographic details) that they know the victim was at a 9/11 crash site.  The VCF does not accept “Ground Zero” as a specific location for purposes of affidavits.
  • The reason why the victim was present and/or what the victim was doing at the 9/11 crash site (if known by the affiant).
  • A description of the relationship between the affiant and the victim (how the affiant knows the victim and whether the affiant is related to the claimant or the victim). If the affiant and victim worked together, the affidavit should include the name of the organization they were working for and describe how long they worked together, their respective job titles and relationship during the time they worked together (including whether one person supervised the other), and whether the affiant is still employed by that entity.
  • The affiant’s contact information, including address, phone number, email address, or other contact information. In some cases, the VCF may request proof of the affiant’s address and/or relationship to the victim or claimant or may contact the affiant.
  • Affidavits must either be sworn and notarized or include the following language to comply with 28 U.S.C. § 1746:
    • If signed within the United States, its territories, possessions, or commonwealths, add this language: “I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on [date affidavit is signed]. [Affiant’s Signature]”
    • If signed outside the United States, add this language: “I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on [date affidavit is signed]. [Affiant’s Signature]”

When an individual’s presence is based on residence in the NYC Exposure Zone, affiants should provide the information listed above and also provide:

- The victim’s exact address during the time they were living in the Exposure Zone.

- The time period that the victim lived at that address (if known by the affiant).

- A statement describing whether the affiant knows if the victim actually resided at that address for some period between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, and whether the affiant is aware of any time during that period that the victim was out of town or not living at that address.

Affidavits that do not comply with these requirements are not sufficient to establish a victim’s presence. If the Special Master determines that an affidavit lacks the required level of detail, the claim may be denied on that basis.

If an affiant does not speak English, you may submit an affidavit in another language. You should submit the affidavit in the affiant’s native language, along with a certified English translation. You must also include a certification signed by the translator that includes a statement that the translator is competent to translate the document, and that the translation is true and accurate to the best of the translator’s abilities. The certification must also include the translator’s address and phone number.

b.  Presence Information for specific employers or entities:  

Information specific to FDNY firefighters and fire officers

The VCF has an arrangement with the FDNY in which the FDNY will provide documents directly to the VCF regarding proof of a FDNY firefighter’s or fire officer’s presence at the site. As a result, FDNY firefighters and fire officers do not need to submit any documents as proof of presence at the site unless the VCF specifically requests such documents. Contacting the FDNY directly will not expedite the processing of your claim and, in fact, may delay claims processing by tying up limited resources at the FDNY. If the VCF needs additional information from you after reviewing your claim form and documentation, the VCF will contact you.

Information specific to FDNY EMS members

In limited cases, the FDNY may be able to provide documents and/or information directly to the VCF regarding proof of an EMS member’s presence at the site.  Therefore, you should still submit other evidence (such as affidavits or contemporaneous records) demonstrating that you were physically present in the NYC Exposure Zone during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002.  If you have your WTC Notice of Participation which was filed with the NYCERS Pension Fund to preserve your right to file for a WTC disability retirement or reclassification in the future, you should submit it with your claim as it may support presence for purposes of your VCF claim.  It is also helpful if you specify your job title within EMS on September 11 or in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

Information specific to victims who worked for NYPD

NYPD members can establish presence in the same way as other claimants. In addition, the VCF will consider the following documents to be of assistance in establishing presence. You must submit at least two of the documents listed below if you intend to rely on these documents to establish presence.

The documents submitted must clearly pertain to the named victim and identify the date(s) and location(s) of the victim’s WTC-related service. A complete copy of each document must be submitted, unless otherwise specified below. The VCF will review these submissions on a case-by-case basis and will notify you of any additional information required. All documents submitted for a claim are subject to verification and authentication procedures undertaken independently by the VCF. Please note that the NYPD will not be able to provide the VCF direct access to the below listed documents. 

  • Memo Book/Activity Log (must include cover page and excerpts of relevant portions with consecutive pages)
  • Line of Duty Injury Report (must include an injury date within the relevant time period)
  • Line of Duty Control Log
  • Firearms Discharge/Assault Report
  • Aided Report Worksheet
  • Overtime Report
  • Unscheduled Overtime Report
  • Roll Call
  • Detail Roster Assignment Sheet
  • NYPD Consultation Referral – Medical Division/NYPD Surgeon Form
  • Statement of Illness/Injury
  • Daily Activity Report
  • Command Log entry
  • Exposure Report (49)
  • Medical Board Report
  • Affidavit (see Section 1.6a for more detail regarding affidavits)
  • WTC Notice of Participation
  • NYPD Rescue Detail badge (must include victim’s name and photo)

For civilian NYPD members, please refer to Section 1.6 above regarding documents to demonstrate proof of presence. If you need help obtaining documents to demonstrate that you were present at the site, please contact the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association at 212- 298-9144.

New York City Department of Sanitation

The VCF works directly with the Department of Sanitation to verify the presence of employees who participated in the rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts. If you were a Sanitation employee between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, the VCF will contact the Sanitation Department to confirm your presence at a 9/11 site. If the VCF needs additional information from you after reviewing your claim form and documentation, the VCF will contact you.

District Council 37 (DC-37)

If you were a DC-37 union member, your union may be able to provide information and/or documentation to support presence for purposes of your VCF claim.  Please contact the union’s Safety & Health Department at 212-815-1685 and explain that you are interested in obtaining this information, if available. 

Communications Workers of America’s (CWA )

Certain CWA members completed a WTC Recovery/Cleanup Effort Exposure Information form, which was distributed to CWA local unions and then provided to the CWA District 1 office upon completion. These forms may support presence where they:

  1. clearly identify a VCF-qualifying date and location of service;
  2. were created contemporaneously with your alleged exposures; and
  3. include a signed and notarized statement by Micki Siegel de Hernandez, the Occupational Safety and Health Director of CWA District 1, verifying the authenticity and safekeeping of the form.

If you were a CWA member and completed this form, please contact Micki Siegel de Hernandez at 212-509-6994 to see if your form is on file and to obtain the form and the accompanying signed and notarized statement.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

If you were employed by the FBI and worked at one of the crash sites or in the VCF’s NYC Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002, the FBI can provide you with a letter verifying your presence at the site.  You should contact the FBI Call Center at 202-324-3333 to request the FBI “proof of presence” letter and once received, upload it to your claim or mail it to the VCF.  You do not need to submit any additional information to demonstrate your presence at the site.  If the VCF needs additional information from you after reviewing your claim form and the letter, the VCF will contact you.

Lucent Technologies

If you were a CWA member who worked for Lucent Technologies in 2001, the VCF may be able to obtain records confirming presence.  The CWA, District 1 union maintained lists of:

  1. individuals who were working as “Installers” at the Verizon building at 140 West Street in the week after 9/11; and (b) individuals who received respirator training and were “certified” or approved to use those devices at Ground Zero on or before October 3, 2001. Note that these lists do not include all Lucent employees who were involved in the emergency response effort. Therefore, you should still submit other evidence (such as affidavits or contemporaneous records) demonstrating that you were physically present in the NYC Exposure Zone during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002.

Verizon

The VCF makes efforts to obtain information for individuals who assert that they participated in the World Trade Center response while working for Verizon.  Verizon is generally able to confirm employment, but may not be able to confirm the actual location of an individual’s work. Therefore, if you are asserting presence through your employment with Verizon, please submit any and all documents related to the time period(s) and location(s) you participated in the World Trade Center response. You should also submit other evidence (such as affidavits or contemporaneous records) demonstrating that you were physically present in the NYC Exposure Zone during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002.

Empire BlueCross BlueShield

If you were employed by Empire BlueCross BlueShield (“EBCBS,” now a subsidiary of WellPoint Inc.) on September 11, 2001, the VCF will attempt to obtain information from EBCBS to confirm presence. While EBCBS may be able to confirm whether an individual was assigned to work at the World Trade Center, it does not have attendance records that would confirm whether the individual was actually present at the site during the time period. Therefore, if you are alleging presence based on employment at EBCBS, you will still need to submit other evidence (such as affidavits or contemporaneous records) demonstrating that you were physically present in the NYC Exposure Zone during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002.

New York State National Guard

The VCF works with the National Guard to directly obtain information for individuals who assert that they participated in the World Trade Center response while on State Active Duty. While the National Guard may be able to confirm whether an individual was on Active Duty, it does not have records that would confirm the actual location of the work. Therefore, Claimants who allege presence based on work with the National Guard will still need to submit other evidence (such as affidavits or contemporaneous records) demonstrating that they were physically present in the NYC Exposure Zone during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002.

New York State Police (“NYSP”)

If you were employed by the New York State Police (“NYSP”) and worked in the NYC Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, you can contact the NYSP Medical Monitoring Unit via phone at 518-485-5044, or via email at hresource@troopers.ny.gov, to request a letter documenting the dates and locations of your deployment to the NYC Exposure Zone during that time period. Once you receive the letter, you should upload it to your claim or mail it to the VCF.  You do not need to submit any additional information to demonstrate your presence at the site.  If the VCF needs additional information from you after reviewing your claim form and the letter, the VCF will contact you.

 New York St ate Workers’ Compensation Board (“ WCB”)

The VCF may be able to obtain records confirming presence from the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board for individuals who have made a Workers’ Compensation claim based on their 9/11-related work. To do so, the VCF needs the WCB number associated with the individual’s Workers’ Compensation claim. You should submit documents reflecting your WCB number. You should also submit other evidence (such as affidavits or contemporaneous records) demonstrating that you were physically present in the NYC Exposure Zone during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002, when you submit your claim.

WTC Volunteer Fund administered by the New York State Workers' Compensation Board

The VCF may be able to obtain records confirming presence from the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board for individuals who have made a claim to the WTC Volunteer Fund based on their 9/11-related work. To do so, the VCF needs the Workers’ Compensation Board number associated with the individual’s Workers’ Compensation claim. You should submit documents reflecting your WCB number. You should also submit other evidence (such as affidavits or contemporaneous records) demonstrating that you were physically present in the NYC Exposure Zone during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002, when you submit your claim.

WTC Health Registry

For individuals enrolled in the WTC Health Registry, the VCF has an arrangement with the WTC Health Registry to obtain direct access to individual survey responses. Claimants must first give their permission to release these responses to the VCF. The WTC Health Registry will provide you with an authorization form that authorizes the WTC Health Registry to release this information to the VCF. You can contact the WTC Health Registry by calling 866-692- 9827. You will still need to submit other evidence (such as affidavits or contemporaneous records) demonstrating that you were physically present in the NYC Exposure Zone during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002.

American Red Cross

If you were a Red Cross volunteer at the crash sites or in the NYC Exposure Zone beginning September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002, the Red Cross may be able to provide you with a letter verifying your presence at the site.  You should contact Sandy Lovett at Sandy.Lovett@redcross.org to request a Red Cross letter verifying your presence. If the VCF needs additional information from you after reviewing your claim form and the letter, the VCF will contact you.

Consolidated Edison (“ConEd”)

The VCF works directly with ConEd to obtain information for ConEd employees who assert that they participated in the World Trade Center response while working for ConEd.  ConEd may be able to verify that an individual worked for ConEd during the relevant timeframe but may not be able to confirm the actual location of where the individual’s work was performed.  If you allege presence based on your work as an employee of ConEd, you should also submit other evidence (such as eyewitness affidavits or contemporaneous records) demonstrating that you were physically present in the NYC Exposure Zone during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002.

If you were a contractor for ConEd, ConEd is unable to provide information regarding your presence at the site within the relevant timeframe.  In that case, you should submit presence documentation (such as eyewitness affidavits or other contemporaneous records) demonstrating that you were physically present in the NYC Exposure Zone during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002.

c.  When to submit presence documents  

You should not submit your claim form unless you are ready to submit all required supporting documents, including documents to support your presence at the site, as the VCF cannot review your claim without this information.  If you would like to “store” presence documentation with the VCF, even if you have no immediate plans to submit a claim, you may upload the documents to the online system at any time after you have submitted your registration.  The VCF website has instructions for uploading documents to the online system.  Please keep in mind, however, that VCF staff will not be reviewing these documents for sufficiency until your claim form and all required supporting documents are submitted.  If you decide to upload documents such as affidavits in order to “store” them with the VCF, you should be very careful to confirm that the document is completed with as much specific information as possible, and you should review it in detail to ensure that it meets all VCF requirements.

 

1.7  VCF 1 Claims 

If you were found eligible for compensation in VCF1, you are eligible to amend your claim and seek additional compensation. You may be eligible for additional compensation if:

  • You suffered a new physical injury or condition that you had not suffered at the time of the VCF1 claim filing or that was not compensable at the time of VCF1.
  • You suffered a new loss that you had not suffered at the time of the VCF1 claim filing – for example, if you were previously compensated for non-economic loss only and have since been determined to be totally disabled due to an eligible condition, you can amend the claim to seek economic loss.
  • Your prior eligible condition has substantially worsened, resulting in damages or loss that was not previously compensated.

Note: There are two objectives when evaluating whether a claimant who already received an award in VCF1 should be awarded additional compensation in VCF2 for exacerbated or new injuries: (1) avoiding the reassessment or recalculation of any component of the VCF1 award or changing any assumption applied in making that calculation, and (2) avoiding duplication of any component of the award that was already made in VCF1.  Thus, the amount of compensation you received in VCF1 will be considered when determining whether additional compensation should be awarded. As a general rule, the compensation you receive in this iteration of the VCF (“VCF2”) will be calculated based on the amount of compensation any similarly situated person who filed a claim only in VCF2 would receive; any compensation you received in VCF1 will then be applied as an adjustment to the award. 

In most cases, you do not need to submit proof of presence as otherwise required if you were deemed eligible for VCF1 (see Section 1.6 for more information on proof of presence). The VCF will contact you if any additional information is needed.

 

1.8  Eligibility Review and Determination  

a.  Preliminary Review

Once you submit your claim, the first step the VCF takes is a preliminary review to confirm that all of the “minimally required” documents have been submitted.  In addition to a complete Claim Form, we require the documents listed below before your claim can move forward for a more substantive review.  Note: the VCF does not accept electronic signatures on any of its forms and documents.  Many of the third-party entities with whom we exchange information on your behalf also do not accept electronic signatures.  To ensure there is no delay in the processing of your claim, please submit your document(s) with the appropriate signature and originals where required.

  • Complete Signature Page
  • Original and signed Exhibit A – “Authorization for Release of Medical Records”
  • Confirmation from the WTC Health Program that you have at least one physical condition certified for treatment (the VCF will contact the WTC Health Program directly to confirm you have an eligible certified condition)
  • Proof of Presence documents as specified in Section 1.6 of the VCF Policies and Procedures document
  • Exhibit 1 – “Social Security Administration Consent Form” (required only if you are claiming economic loss)
  • Original Client Authorization to deposit the payment on your claim to your attorney’s bank account (if applicable) or an ACH payment form if payment on your claim will be deposited to your bank account

Once we confirm we have a complete Exhibit A with original signatures, we contact the WTC Health Program for information about your certified condition(s).  If applicable, the VCF will also request information from certain government entities, employers, and other third parties that may support presence for VCF purposes.

If any of the above documents are missing or insufficient, the VCF will send you a missing information letter and place the claim in “Inactive” status.  Once the required documents are received and verified as sufficient, the claim will be reactivated for review.

If the requested documents are not submitted within 60 days of the date of the missing information letter, your claim may be denied, unless the only outstanding item is confirmation of a certified condition by the WTC Health Program.  The VCF understands there may be a delay in the certification process and will not deny a claim when the certification is the only missing item identified during our preliminary review.  If your claim is denied, you can amend your claim once you have the necessary documents and the VCF will reactivate your claim for review.

b.  Substantive Eligibility Review  

Once we have all documents required for processing, we begin substantive review of the claim to determine if you meet the eligibility criteria set forth in the statute and implementing regulations based on the information and/or documentation in your claim file (see Section 1.1).  This includes confirming that (a) the claim was registered by the applicable deadline, (b) you have an eligible 9/11-related physical condition, (c) there is sufficient documentation to demonstrate that you were present at the site, and (d) any 9/11-related lawsuits have been timely resolved.  If applicable, we also confirm or “validate” the Personal or Authorized Representative who has filed the claim on the victim’s behalf. 

If we need something further in order to determine your eligibility, you will receive a missing information letter.  It is important that you respond to all missing information letters within the timeframe specified in the letter.  If you don’t respond to our missing information request after 30 days, we will render a decision based on the information contained in your file at that time.

You will receive a letter from the VCF explaining the eligibility decision on your claim. If you are found to be eligible for compensation, the letter will list the physical injury or conditions for which you have been found eligible. These are the conditions that the VCF will consider when calculating the amount of your award.  If eligibility is denied, the letter will explain how to appeal the decision or how to amend your claim in the future when you are able to provide the additional information for consideration.

 

1.9 Claims Filed on a Victim's Behalf  

If you are filing a claim on the victim’s behalf, you must show that you have the legal authority to do so.  This includes Personal Representatives filing a claim for a deceased victim, parents or guardians who are filing a claim on behalf of a minor child, and guardians filing a claim for an incapacitated adult. 

Only those authorized by law or court order may pursue a claim on behalf of another individual.  In order to process a claim filed by someone other than the victim, the Special Master must first validate the individual’s authority to represent the victim for the VCF claim.  Different types of documentation are required depending on the representative’s relationship to the victim.

If you are filing a claim on the victim’s behalf, you must submit the documents that are required for the VCF to validate your authority as an authorized representative.  The list of required documents are included in the subsections below.  The list is also available under “Forms and Resources” on the VCF website.

NOTE: If you are filing a deceased claim (i.e., a claim filed on behalf of an individual who is believed to have died as a result of an eligible 9/11-related condition), all claims for lost earnings or benefits must be made, and all supporting documents must be submitted, before the VCF finalizes substantive review of the compensation claim.  A claim has reached the final stages of substantive review when the status in the online system moves to “Determination Made: Processing”. The VCF will not allow any amendment in a deceased claim after a substantive determination on the compensation claim has been made, except in limited circumstances.  It is therefore very important that you claim all losses and submit the required supporting documentation when you file your claim.

a.  Personal Representative of a Deceased Victim  

  • Victim’s Death Certificate: An original or certified copy is required.  If possible, please submit the “long form” version of the death certificate, which lists the cause of death.
  • Letters of Administration, Letters Testamentary, or other Court Order showing the appointment as the Personal Representative, Executor of Will, or Administrator of the Estate.  A copy is sufficient for the VCF to validate the Personal Representative.  An original or certified copy is required before payment can be issued.
    • Your court order may include limitations.  Some limitations do not interfere with the VCF’s ability to validate the Personal Representative, while other limitations may impact the VCF’s ability to process the claim.  See the Instructions for Letters of Administration with Limitations on the "Resources" page of the VCF website for more detailed information.
    • If you submit Letters of Administration, Letters Testamentary, or other Court Order that includes limitations that interfere with the VCF’s ability to process or pay your claim, you will be advised in writing and given time to obtain the appropriate documentation.
    • In very limited circumstances where the Personal Representative is unable to obtain Letters of Administration, Letters Testamentary, or other Court Order, the Special Master may appoint a Personal Representative for purposes of the VCF claim.  You must first attempt to obtain an appointment from the state probate or surrogate court where the victim lived.  Please note that this option is generally available only when legal or geographical obstacles mean that the representative is unable to open an estate to obtain an appointment.  For more information, please see the information on Appointment of a Personal Representative on the "Resources" page of the VCF website.
  • Proof of Victim’s Cause of Death: This may be included on the victim’s death certificate.  If it is not included on the death certificate, other documents sufficient to show proof of cause of death may include a hospital discharge summary, or the victim’s final medical records.  Copies of these documents are sufficient.
  • A complete Claim Form Signature Page: This must be signed by the Personal Representative.  A copy is sufficient.
  • If the Personal Representative has filed an amendment to a personal injury claim that was originally filed by the victim, a complete Claim Form Appendix A is required.  A copy is sufficient.

Claims with Co-Personal Representatives: If the court has appointed co-Personal Representatives as administrators of a decedent’s estate, one Personal Representative must be designated the “Lead Personal Representative” who will serve as the point of contact for the VCF claim.  Each co-Personal Representative must submit a signed and notarized statement identifying the individual who will serve as the Lead Personal Representative.  See Section 6.5 for important information regarding the documentation that must be submitted, specific instructions for signing and submitting each of the required authorizations and forms, and an explanation of how any payment will be made on the claim.  

b.  Parent or Guardian of a Minor Victim (under 18 years of age at the time the claim is filed)  

  • Minor Victim’s Birth Certificate: An original or certified copy is required.
  • If parents share legal custody of the Minor Victim:

One Claim Form Signature Page signed and initialed by both parents.  A copy is sufficient;

   - OR -

Two Claim Form Signature Pages, one signed and initialed by each parent. Copies are sufficient.

 

  • If one parent has sole legal custody of the Minor Victim:

Court Order or Custody Agreement granting the parent sole legal custody.  An original or certified copy is required.

   - AND -

A complete Claim Form Signature Page signed and initialed by the parent who has sole legal custody.  A copy is sufficient.

c.  Guardian of a Non-Minor Victim 

  • Court Order Appointing Guardianship: An original or certified copy is required.
    • Please note that the VCF does not generally accept Powers of Attorney to fulfill this requirement.
  • A complete Claim Form Signature Page signed and initialed by the person granted guardianship.  A copy is sufficient.

If you are the parent of an adult child and are helping your child with his or her VCF claim, you do not need to submit the documents listed above.  Because the child is an adult, the claim form must be completed by the adult child as a “self” claim in the victim’s name, with all applicable exhibits and supporting documents signed by the victim.  The adult child can then authorize the VCF to share information about the claim with a parent by adding the parent as an “Alternative Contact” on the claim form.  The adult child may also grant the parent online access to the claim in the VCF claims system.  NOTE: The parent should not be listed on the claim form as an “Authorized Representative” as this designation is only applicable to parents or guardians of minor children, Personal Representatives of deceased individuals, and guardians of incapacitated adults.

Minors who reach 18 years of age during the processing of the VCF claim: The VCF requires that a victim take ownership of his or her own claim once he or she reaches 18 years of age.  Thus, when the VCF becomes aware that a previously minor victim has reached the age of 18, the VCF will contact the victim at the address on file to request the correct updated contact information, and a properly signed Signature Page, exhibits, and sufficient payment information as directed by the now-adult victim.  Once a victim turns 18, the VCF also will take steps to remove the parent as the Authorized Representative.  The parent will receive a letter explaining the change, and the now-adult victim will also receive a letter explaining the change and next steps, including information on how to add the parent as an Alternative Contact if the victim still wants the parent to assist with the claim.  The claim will be placed in “Inactive” status until the victim submits the properly signed documents. 

If the parent was represented by a law firm for the minor child’s claim, the VCF will not remove the law firm associated with the claim unless the now-adult victim asks that the firm be removed.  This means the law firm of record will continue to have access to the claim and receive copies of the correspondence unless the attorney or the victim notifies the VCF that the firm no longer represents the now-adult victim. 

 

 

 


[1] The VCF clarified the rule regarding lawsuit settlements and newly covered conditions on November 16, 2016.  Lawsuits filed after November 16, 2016, are prohibited by the general statutory requirement that a claimant cannot have an active 9/11 –related lawsuit at the same time as a VCF claim, and filing such a lawsuit waives your right to file a claim with the VCF.


[2] The VCF clarified the rule regarding lawsuit dismissals and newly covered conditions in November 2016.  Lawsuits filed after November 2016 are prohibited by the general statutory requirement that a claimant cannot have an active 9/11–related lawsuit at the same time as a VCF claim, and filing a lawsuit after November 2016 waives your right to file a claim with the VCF.


[3] The VCF and the WTC Health Program use two different geographic areas and two different timeframes during which an individual needed to be at a 9/11 site.  The VCF’s “New York City Exposure Zone” is used to determine an individual’s presence for VCF eligibility purposes (and is not dependent on the length of time the individual was at the site), while the WTC Health Program’s ”New York City Disaster Area” is used to determine certification for treatment and requires a minimum amount of time spent in the designated area.  It is therefore possible that an individual may be “present” for VCF purposes, but not eligible to be certified for treatment by the WTC Health Program, and therefore not eligible for compensation from the VCF.  The geographic area used to confirm an individual’s presence for purposes of their VCF claim can be found at https://www.vcf.gov/nycExposureMap.html


[4] “Exposure” is defined by NIOSH as the duration of time (hours) between September 11, 2011 and July 31, 2002 that an individual was within the defined NIOSH “New York City Disaster Area” and inhaled a specified level of dust and/or smoke. The WTC Health Program website includes a map of the NIOSH-defined “New York City Disaster Area,” along with detailed information about the number of hours, dates, and levels of exposure that are required for purposes of certifying a condition for treatment.