When the 9/11 Zadroga Act was reauthorized in 2015, several changes were made to the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) program. Many of these changes have a direct impact on how compensation awards are made and how much Zadroga Act compensation an individual claimant may receive for certain types of losses.
Caps on Damages for Non-Economic Losses
Pursuant to the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act of 2015, new regulations were enacted that put caps on the amounts that Group B claimants could receive from the VCF for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering. Group B claims are those with award notices dated after December 17, 2015.
Specifically, non-economic loss caps for Group B claims are as follows:
- $250,000 for an eligible 9/11 covered cancer (certain cancers will be awarded less than $250,000)
- $90,000 for an eligible non-cancer condition (many non-cancer conditions will be awarded less than $90,000)
For purposes of calculating economic loss, Annual Gross Income (“AGI”) as defined in the Internal Revenue Code is capped at $200,000 for each year of loss. Additionally, the Reauthorization Act removed the law’s previous provision for $10,000 minimum awards. Now, the VCF must compute the loss and then deduct any collateral offsets (such as Social Security Disability, workers’ compensation, etc.) without applying any minimum award. As a result, some claimants with otherwise valid claims will not receive an award because the amount of the offset will exceed the amount of their loss.
Prioritizing Claimants Facing the Most Serious Circumstances
In addition to these damage caps, the Reauthorization Act directed the VCF’s Special Master to prioritize claims for 9/11 victims suffering from the most serious and debilitating conditions. As a result, the VCF has stated that the awards for non-economic losses for such claims “will be at the higher end of the range of awards and non-economic awards for those with much less serious conditions will be at the lower end of the range of awards.”
As a practical matter, this has and will continue to result in non-economic awards for victims with less serious conditions being lower than they were for similarly situated Group A claimants. According to the VCF, “in some cases, typically involving milder conditions that have a limited effect on daily life, the non-economic award could be 50% lower.”
While the VCF will continue evaluate each claim on a case-by-case basis, these changes only reinforce the importance of submitting a 9/11 compensation claim application that is complete, detailed and tailored to increase the chances of maximizing the amount of your award.
At Turley, Hansen & Rosasco, we have been helping survivors and first responders recover compensation and get needed resources since shortly after the Towers fell. We work closely with each individual and family to fully understand their situation, condition, and needs. Using our extensive experience and deep commitment to 9/11 victims, we have recovered over $100 million in 9/11 compensation on behalf of over 1,600 clients.
To learn more about filing a claim with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund under the Zadroga Reauthorization Act of 2015, contact Turley Hansen today and request a FREE CLAIM REVIEW with one of our experienced 9/11 lawyers. Call 1-855-WTC-INFO (1-855-982-4636), start a Live Chat or contact us online to get help with your 9/11 compensation claim today. We look forward to assisting you.