One of the most commonly asked question from Claimants applying to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is, “How do I prove I was at Ground Zero?” Many Claimants get confused and feel helpless in this area because they don’t know where to start.
The VCF has certain guidelines on what they consider acceptable proof documentation, but they also understand that certain proof documents may be difficult to obtain. The VCF has partnered with agencies such as the World Trade Center Health Registry, the New York City Police Department and others to help Claimants obtain proof documents such as contemporaneous employment records, sign in rosters and work logs.
The VCF requires two forms of proof, but the more proof documentation you can provide with your claim, the better. Recently, Turley, Hansen & Partners had the privilege of participating in a conference call facilitated by Special Master Sheila Birnbaum of the September 11th Victim Compensatioin Fund. The topic of proof of presence was discussed in regards to what types of documentation holds the most weight.
It was noted that one of the best forms of proof were affidavits from witnesses that can attest to your presence at the crash site. A witness affidavit must be from someone that physically saw you in the crash zone area. It is understood that it may be hard for some to rememember exact details from 12 years ago, but in order for an affidavit to be effective, it must contain as much detail as possible.
The following is a summary of what information should be included in the content a witness affidavit that will be submitted to the VCF:
Crash Zone Location – Where in the crash zone area was the Claimant seen? (ex: on the pile, Vesey Street, Battery Park, Fresh Kills Landfill, etc.)
Date and Time – Specify dates or date range the Claimant was seen in the crash zone area and times.
Lenth of Time – How long was the Claimant in the crash zone area? This is especially important because length of time shows how long Claimant was exposed to 9/11 toxins and debris.
Why the Claimant was at Ground Zero– What was the Claimant doing at the crash zone area? (ex: search and rescue, area worker, clean-up, etc.)
Who did the Claimant work for and job title? If the Claimant was an area worker at Ground Zero then the affidavit should state the Claimants employer and position. (ex: NYPD Detective, Verizon Supervisor)
How does the witness know the Claimant? Explain the relationship between the witness and the Claimant. (ex: Co-worker, fellow volunteer worker, fellow student, etc.)
For a more in depth view of affidavit criteria, visit the September 11th Victim Compensation FAQ’s.
Should you have any questions about proof of presence and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund under the Zadroga Act, feel free to call, click the chat button or request to be contacted at the top of this page.
Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.