VCF Fund Money

How Much Money Did Each Victim Receive Through the VCF Fund?

By Troy Rosasco

For the past ten years, one of the main sources of compensation for individuals who suffered a medical condition because of their exposure to the toxic dust at the 9/11 terror attack sites has been the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). This fund has awarded billions of dollars to claimants in the two decades since 9/11, with claims increasing in recent years as more people learn about VCF and doctors diagnose more 9/11-related medical conditions. For more information regarding the VCF fund or your potential eligibility, speak with our experienced 911 injury lawyers today.

What Is the VCF?

The federal government created the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) to compensate the victims and family members of victims for the harm they sustained in the terrorist attacks on the United States that occurred the morning of September 11, 2001. The fund currently compensates individuals who suffer from a certified 9/11-related medical condition because of their exposure to the toxic dust and materials at the terrorist attack sites and provides wrongful death compensation for family members of those who have died due to 9/11-related conditions.

As a result of permanent reauthorization of the fund in 2019 through the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, signed into law by then-President Trump, the VCF now provides claimants the ability to register to file a claim within two years of certification of a 9/11-related medical condition or death of a family member from a 9/11-related condition. This registration reserves the claimant’s right to file a claim for compensation at any time before October 1, 2090.

How the VCF Calculates Loss

By law, the VCF can only compensate individuals for losses caused by health conditions (or deaths) linked to September 11, 2001. The law requires the VCF Special Master (who administers the VCF), in each case, to take account of the harm a claimant has suffered, the particular facts of the claim, and the claimant’s circumstances.

Specifically, the VCF evaluates claims based on the answers to the following questions:

  • Was there a demonstrable loss?
  • Can the VCF reasonably conclude a 9/11-related health condition caused the loss?
  • What compensation makes sense in the context of this claimant and the individual circumstances of this claim?

According to the VCF administration, three principles guide this evaluation:

  • Fairness to all claimants. This means considering both fairness to the individual claimant and the entire claimant population, with priority given to those who suffer from the most debilitating physical conditions.
  • Is the decision consistent with the Zadroga Act?
  • In consideration of the public funds used for compensation, has the VCF done its part to ensure that it only compensates legitimate claims?

How Much Money Did Each Victim Receive?

Individuals filing claims for compensation from the VCF have often received widely varying amounts, depending not only on the severity of their 9/11-related health condition but also how much VCF funding was available when they claimed compensation.

Here is a look at the amount of funding provided in each phase of the program.

  • Currently, wrongful death claims are compensated through a $250,000 base award, with an additional $100,000 provided for the spouse and each dependent of the deceased.
  • Claims involving non-economic losses for non-cancerous conditions are awarded a fixed amount of $90,000, while non-economic loss claims for cancerous conditions will result in a maximum compensatory amount of $250,000.

The amount of non-economic compensation a person receives does not increase by the number of health conditions from which that person suffers. In fact, it is common for an individual who suffers from multiple, non-cancerous 9/11-related health conditions to receive an award that is less than what a person with a single cancerous condition might receive. This is because, as viewed by Congress that set monetary limits on VCF awards, cancer tends to inflict a heavier burden on an individual’s quality of life than health conditions that are less likely to cause serious disability and death.

But that is not always the case, of course, which is why the VCF Special Master is authorized to approve additional amounts of compensation for particularly severe non-cancerous illnesses such as emphysema or sarcoidosis. In recent years, VCF eliminated the minimum amount you can claim, allowing those who were affected by milder conditions to obtain assistance.

Original VCF Awards

In September 2001, in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Congress created the original version of the VCF to provide compensation for economic and non-economic losses incurred by individuals who sustained harm as a result of the terrorist attacks.

The fund provided a no-fault alternative to the mounting number of lawsuits that plaintiffs filed seeking compensation for injuries and deaths caused directly by the attacks. Instead of filing a lawsuit, individuals could seek compensation through the VCF.

By the time the original VCF was closed in 2004, the VCF had paid more than $7.049 billion to survivors of 2,880 people who died as a result of the terrorist attacks and to the 2,680 individuals who suffered injuries in the attacks or during the rescue and recovery operations immediately afterward.

In the first years of the VCF, compensation for 9/11 claims ranged from $500 to $8.6 million. For death claims, the average compensation was $2,082,128.

Reauthorization and Changes to Compensation

In January 2011, President Obama signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. Among other provisions, that law reauthorized funding for the VCF. The reauthorization brought new VCF eligibility guidelines, enabling people to claim compensation for health conditions linked to exposure to toxins at 9/11 attack and cleanup sites in Lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville. The original VCF was also limited to people who were sick or injured during the first 96 hours after the attacks, while the reopened 2011 version of the VCF made eligible anyone present in lower Manhattan (south of Canal Street) from 9/11 until May 30, 2002 who got sick in the 20 years since then.

In the first five years after the 2011 reauthorization, the fund awarded more than 9,000 claimants over $1.8 billion (an average of about $200,000 per claimant, although amounts varied). The reauthorization of the VCF was only intended to provide compensation on claims for five years, through a limited appropriation of funds, but Congress extended it once more in 2015 to continue funding the program for an additional five years.

In the second half of the decade since reauthorization of the fund—with the fund now permanently authorized through October 1, 2090—awards have been issued to around 25,000 additional claimants, totaling nearly $6 billion.

The number of claims and amounts awarded has increased each year since 2013. This increase likely reflects both information about the VCF reaching more eligible claimants, as well as the latency periods on various types of cancers related to 9/11 toxic exposure expiring, which have only begun to be diagnosed recently.

A By-the-Numbers Look at Recent Claims

In 2019, the VCF provided the following information about claims:

  • 37,911: The number of VCF claims made in New York. VCF claimants live in every state in the nation.
  • 12,011: The number of VCF claims made in 2019, including 5,381 responder claims, and 6,603 claims made by survivors of the attacks.
  • 5,265: The number of claims made for 9/11-associated cancers—4,797 claims involved cancer as well as a non-cancer condition, while 15,587 claims were for non-cancerous conditions only.
  • 95,000: the approximate number of registrations to the VCF.
  • 36,151: The number of VCF registrations that occurred in 2013, the first year after the provisions of the newly reauthorized VCF were fully established and funding was in place.

Additionally, according to the VCF’s report for 2020:

  • $7,758,313,266.43: The total amount of compensation that the VCF awarded.
  • $1,597,762,389.38: The amount of compensation awarded by the VCF in 2020.
  • 8,813: The number of initial award letters sent to VCF claimants in one year.
  • 9,129: The number of payments processed through the VCF in a year.
  • 454: Claims expedited to provide a quick funding decision in a situation where an individual did not have time to wait through the review process due to the presence of a terminal illness or a financial emergency such as the inability to pay rent or utilities.

Hansen & Rosasco’s VCF Results

In October 2001, Hansen & Rosasco took its first 9/11 case, helping the parents of a young man who died while working in the North Tower to obtain compensation for their loss. We provided our services on a pro bono basis. Since that day, we have helped thousands of individuals to obtain compensation for their 9/11-related medical conditions or the wrongful death of a loved one. We have also become the only major 9/11 law firm to handle victims’ claims for Social Security Disability payments.

We have a full-time team of paralegals solely devoted to helping individuals receive medical care and monitoring through the WTC Health Program—which was also created through the Zadroga Act and provides certification of 9/11-related medical conditions that are eligible for compensation through the VCF. We also have an in-house director of 9/11 education and outreach, Phil Alvarez, who, along with his brother Luis Alvarez and Jon Stewart testified before Congress and were instrumental in getting the VCF extended in 2019. The 2019 law was named, in part, in honor of Detective Alvarez.

Due to our exclusive focus on September 11 claims, we have obtained results for our clients that include:

  • $3.4 million for a downtown Manhattan professional disabled by breast cancer.
  • $3.2 million for a police officer disabled by colon cancer.
  • $3.1 million for an NYPD officer with 3/4 disability pension, who acquired 9/11-related kidney cancer.
  • $3.0 million for the spouse of a Wall Street broker who died from 9/11-related multiple myeloma.
  • $2.1 million for an NYPD officer who was completely disabled by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) resulting from 9/11 toxic exposure.
  • $2.1 million for the 9/11-related death of a Counter-Terrorism HAZMAT officer with 9/11-related metastatic bladder cancer.
  • $1.9 million for the 9/11-related death of a New York City Police Department detective who died of lung cancer.
  • $1.8 million VCF award for New York City Detective whose death resulted from 9/11-related Hodgkin’s’ Paragranuloma and treatment-induced Polyneuropathy.
Hansen & Rosasco, LLP
9/11 Injury Attorneys, Dan Hansen & Troy Rosasco

Let Us Help You Obtain the Compensation You Deserve

Around 80,000 responders and 400,000 survivors—including those working, attending school or daycare, or living in the area—were exposed to the toxic brew of drywall, concrete dust, jet fuel, asbestos, glass and metal shards, and other hazardous substances when the Twin Towers collapsed on 9/11. Since that day, much research has determined what was in the plume of dust that blanketed Lower Manhattan. Unfortunately, many types of cancer and other exposure-related illnesses have painted a detailed picture of how dangerous those toxins were.

Hansen & Rosasco has assisted the victims of 9/11 since the beginning. We have worked with clients through periods in which the VCF was running low on money and times when the VCF did not operate at all. We have developed a deep understanding not only of the requirements on individuals wishing to obtain compensation but the needs of these individuals as they navigate the changes in life that a serious illness creates.

It is important to remember that you do not have to prove unequivocally that your condition was the result of your 9/11-related toxic exposure to obtain an award. You do, however, need a diagnosis of a condition linked to the exposure suffered by responders and survivors of 9/11, and you must also prove that you were in the exposure areas when the toxins were detected.

The largest exposure zone is in Lower Manhattan, in the area around the former site of the World Trade Center. This area includes Chinatown, Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, SoHo, Tribeca, Battery Park, and Bowling Green.

If you wish to know more about the VCF, the WTC Health Program, or other programs that assist the responders or survivors of 9/11, you need help filing a claim or an appeal, or you want to obtain wrongful death compensation after the loss of a loved one from a 9/11-linked illness, contact us online or call (855) 353-4907. We provide information for free through a no-obligation case evaluation.

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