Late last night, our attorneys had a chance to review in detail the new James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act bill released by the House of Representatives. Here is what you need to know and what you may not have read in the newspapers:
- The Act directs the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) Special Master to authorize payment of previously reduced payments of final awards made prior to the enactment of the new law “as soon as practicable”. For example, this means that a claimant who was awarded $100,000 last year for his 9/11 injuries, but only received $10,000 initially, will receive the $90,000 balance of the award from the government as soon as reasonably possible. This should make many of our clients, who have patiently been waiting for their full award, very happy!
- The Act extends medical care through the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) to 2090 which will essentially cover any 9/11 responders or lower Manhattan residents who develop a 9/11 cancer during their lifetime, including asbestos related cancers such as mesothelioma and lung cancer;
- Extends the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) for five more years and adds an additional $4.6 billion to pay claims;
- Important to residents of lower Manhattan (who are also eligible for Victim Compensation Fund benefits should they develop a 9/11 cancer), the Act defines the actual “exposure area” for both residents and responders to:
- “the area in Manhattan that is 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“. Any resident who lived in this area of Lower Manhattan between 9/11/2001 and 5/30/2002 and develops a 9/11 related cancer will be eligible to file a claim.
- The Act caps pain and suffering awards for cancer at $250,000 (already the unofficial standard) and $90,000 for non-cancer claims.
- The Act directs the Special Master to “establish a system for determining” which claims will be considered Group A claims vs. Group B claims. Essentially, Group B claims are subject to the new caps under the law. The Special Master will issue regulations to determine which claims will fall into Group A and which will fall into Group B.
For a full copy of the Zadroga 9/11 Zadroga Act Reauthorization bill released by the House last night, click this link: Zadroga Reauthorization Act 2015 Final Highlighted.
Remember , the Act must still be voted on and approved by Congress and sent to the President for his signature. We will keep you informed of further details.