Who is Covered by the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund?

Every 9/11 Victim Deserves Compensation

September 11, 2001, was a day that will live in the minds and hearts of all Americans. On that day, the U.S. suffered the worst terrorist attack on American soil. In fact, it was the worst terrorist attack in human history. Nearly 3,000 Americans lost their lives and 25,000 more suffered injuries.

In the days and months following the attacks, the people of New York and Lower Manhattan tried to put their lives back together again. They coordinated cleanup efforts, supported grieving families, reopened businesses, and went back to work, all while breathing in deadly and dangerous fumes and dust that hung over and settled all over lower Manhattan for many months. As a result of breathing the fumes and dust that hung in the air for almost a year after the attacks, thousands more of the 9/11 survivors—the downtown NYC residents, workers, and students—suffered substantial long-term health consequences, including many 9/11 caused cancers.

To assist victims and survivors of 9/11, the U.S. government created two programs:

  1. World Trade Center Health Program
  2. 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

The WTC Health Program provides free medical screenings, lifetime healthcare, medical monitoring, cancer care, and prescription coverage.

The 9/11 VCF provides for a money award to responders and downtown workers, residents and students who suffer from digestive or respiratory conditions as well as over 70 different types of cancers that have been conclusively linked to the exposure to environmental fallout on 9/11 or at any time during the many months after the attacks.

Importantly, the NYC downtown area workers, residents and students—who breathed the same toxic dust and fumes as the first responders—are eligible for the same level of protection as first responders. In addition, because the 9/11 VCF is 100% fully funded by the federal government, awards and payments to residents, workers and students do not reduce the awards or funding available to first responders.

Unfortunately, the application and approval process—like many dealings with the federal governments—is often difficult and time-consuming. As such, victims and survivors of 9/11 and their families need a law firm on their side with experience handling these complex claims and federal regulations. To receive medical benefits and compensation, there are actually two different applications: One application with the WTC Health Program, and a second completely different application (and a different set of federal rules and regulations) with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

Medical benefits and financial awards depend on numerous factors, and the WTC Health Program and the 9/11 VCF have inconsistent rules and regulations that must be met. For example, the “crash site disaster area” for the WTC Health Program is the the entire area South of Houston Street and parts of downtown Brooklyn, while the “crash site disaster area” under the rules of the VCF is the area South of Canal Street.

The WTC Health Program has a complex set of rules that must be satisfied to qualify for Health Program benefits, including a minimum number of hours that you must be present to qualify, and considers your status as a downtown resident, worker, or student. The rules and federal regulations for the 9/11 VCF, have a different set of requirements. Critically important is that if you do not meet all of the requirements of the WTC Health Program and the 9/11 VCF, you will not be eligible for a money award from the VCF.

With an experienced 9/11 attorney in your corner, you can rest easy knowing you have the support needed to receive the benefits and compensation you deserve.

What is the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund?

Hansen & Rosasco - 9/11 Cancer Claim

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) provides financial compensation to anyone present at the World Trade Center, Ground Zero, or surrounding New York City crash site exposure zone (the entire area of lower Manhattan South of Canal Street). It also provides financial compensation for anyone present at the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA crash sites.

The Victim Compensation Fund seeks to help anyone present in lower Manhattan on 9/11 plus those who helped the City in the many months after the deadly terrorist attacks—by returning to work, school, or their apartments. This includes a wide range of people from first responders to all Lower Manhattan residents, workers, and students.

After 9/11 the VCF originally operated as a way to compensate victims of the attack and those families who lost loved ones. In 2011, President Obama signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. This act funded the VCF for an additional five years.

In 2015, the deadline was again extended and the VCF refunded. In 2019, President Trump signed H.R. 1327 into law, the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act. This 2019 law fully funded the VCF (providing unlimited funding estimated at over $10 billion) and allowed injured or harmed individuals until October 2090 to file a claim and collect compensation.

Now, survivors of 9/11 have 70 years to seek compensation through the VCF for their 9/11-related illnesses. While you have 70 years to seek this compensation, you must act quickly. The law considers anyone who filed a claim by July 29, 2021, to have filed a timely claim. You can still file after this deadline, however, your claim may become harder.

9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Eligibility

Who Does the VCF Cover?

Many different people can obtain coverage and compensation through the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. However, the main criteria for being paid 9/11 compensation includes proving (with records, affidavits, and other evidence):

  • That you were a first responder, volunteer, OR that you lived, worked, or went to school near Ground Zero and the exposure zone between 9/11/01 and 05/30/02.
  • Diagnosed with a World Trade Center Health Program 9/11 illness, cancer, or medical condition that has been “certified” as caused by your exposure to the 9/11 toxic dust and fumes.

If you meet these two criteria, you should speak to an experienced 9/11 attorney immediately to begin the application process. This process can take time and often involves numerous steps and federal red tape, including proving and submitting a claim with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). As such, it is best to have an attorney handle this part of the process, so you can focus on what really matters – your health.

Here are examples of some of the people who may qualify:

  • FDNY responders. FDNY responders who spent a minimum of four hours between September 11, 2001, and July 31, 2002, at one of these locations may qualify for VCF compensation:
    • Ground Zero
    • Staten Island Landfill
    • NYC Chief Medical Examiner’s Office
  • WTC general responders. WTC general responders who spent a minimum of four hours between September 11, 2001, and September 14, 2001, 24 hours between September 11, 2001, and September 30, 2001, or at least 80 hours between September 11, 2001, and July 31, 2002, at any of these locations may qualify for VCF compensation:
    • Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street
    • Staten Island Landfill
    • Specific Barge Loading Piers
    • NYC Morgue
    • Emergency vehicle garages
    • Barges or trucks moving debris

This includes anyone who handled body bags, concrete, debris, or trash from the site.

  • WTC survivors. Residents, students, and employees in the general NYC exposure zone may qualify for VCF compensation. The amount of time you need to spend in this area varies depending on what you did and where you were. Your attorney can help you determine eligibility.

The exposure zone for 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund compensation is smaller than the exposure zone for the World Trade Center Health Program. The World Trade Center Health Program exposure zone includes a section of Downtown Brooklyn known as the Brooklyn Heights area, as well as all of Lower Manhattan south of Houston Street.

When seeking compensation from the VCF, the exposure zone is different. It only includes the area of Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street/East Broadway/Clinton Street. When discussing compensation and healthcare benefits, where you lived, worked, and went to school matters.

While the WTC Health Program covers a much larger area than the 9/11 VCF, you may still qualify for and receive VCF compensation if you lived, worked or went to school in Brooklyn Heights or the area North of Canal and South of Houston Streets. We have won compensation for many such 9/11 claimants, and it’s vitally important to speak with a competent lawyer about how to qualify for both the 9/11 Health plus a compensation award.

  • Pentagon/Shanksville responders. Any responders or volunteers who spent at least four hours at either site may qualify for VCF. This includes:
    • Pentagon site. Responders there between September 11, 2001, and November 19, 2001, may qualify.
    • Shanksville, PA. Responders there between September 11, 2001, and October 3, 2001, may qualify.

Where Do You Need to Live?

When discussing compensation and healthcare benefits, where you lived, worked, and went to school matters. To qualify for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, you must have lived near Ground Zero and the surrounding “exposure zone.”

The exposure zone for Victim Health Fund compensation is smaller than the exposure zone for the World Trade Center Health Program. As such, just because you qualify for the World Health Trade Center Program does not automatically mean that you qualify for the VCF. You must prove eligibility under the different rules for the WTCHP and VCF programs.

The World Trade Center Health Program exposure zone includes a section of Downtown Brooklyn known as the Brooklyn Heights area, as well as all of Lower Manhattan south of Houston Street. In comparison, the exposure zone for VCF eligibility only includes the area of Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street/East Broadway/Clinton Street.

No matter where you currently live in the United States, however, what matters most is where you were on 9/11 and during the months that followed. If you lived, worked, or went to school in the exposure zone between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, you may qualify for compensation. Many 9/11 victims are surprised to learn that they still qualify, even if they moved away from New York in the years since.

If you are uncertain of your eligibility, discuss your case with an experienced 9/11 attorney. Your attorney will need to pursue WTC Health Program membership and certification of your 9/11-related illness before pursuing VCF compensation. This is a time-consuming process. Even if you do not believe you qualify, you should speak to a 9/11 VCF attorney to review your legal options. You may deserve benefits and compensation.

The Long-Term Health Consequences of 9/11

When the Twin Towers fell, the air filled with a deadly mix of toxins and carcinogens. In fact, researchers and scientists found more than 2,500 contaminants in the air, such as fiberglass, lead, asbestos, and concrete dust. In addition, jet fuel burned, fires raged, and the result was a thick toxic cloud that hung in the air for months after the tragedy. The greyish WTC dust was in every nook and cranny of lower Manhattan—on the outside and rooftops of the buildings and throughout the air ducts and the inside of the same buildings.

VCF Program Statistics

Responder Compensation Determinations

Source: https://www.vcf.gov/sites/vcf/files/media/document/2020-06/VCFMonthlyReportMay2020.pdf/

During that time, first responders, general responders, residents, and workers breathed in the air, exposing themselves to toxic levels of harmful contaminants. In addition, anyone who cleaned vehicles, hauled away debris, treated victims, and dealt with the cleanup (such as on the barges or at Fresh Kills) was also exposed.

There is a growing body of research about the long-term health consequences of 9/11. This research shows that many downtown residents, workers, students and responders suffer from a wide range of illnesses and diseases, including many respiratory-related illnesses. Lung damage, asthma, emphysema, sarcoidosis, and cancers rose in individuals who were at or near Ground Zero in the days, weeks, and months following the attacks. Many lost their lives since the Twin Towers fell, due to chronic and fatal diseases.

One of those victims was Marcy Borders, commonly known as the “dust lady”. Photographer Stan Honda snapped the famous picture of the woman who stepped out of the building completely covered in thick gray dust. The picture became an iconic photo of the horror witnessed by survivors that day. In the years following the attack, Marcy Border suffered from serious PTSD and depression. In 2014, doctors diagnosed her with stomach cancer. She wondered if her cancer could relate in any way to 9/11. She told interviewers, “ How do you go from being healthy to waking up the next day with cancer?” Sadly, she died in 2015 at the age of 42.

Stories like this one are tragically common. They highlight the long-lasting effects of that day and the destruction that still continues. Stories like Marcy’s are the reason why the U.S. government created the World Trade Center Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund.

The same dust and fumes that engulfed Marcy Borders on 9/11 hung in the air for almost a full year after the attacks. The WTC Health Program and the 9/11 VCF do not require that you have been covered in dust to qualify. If you lived or worked in lower Manhattan on 9/11 or the many months after, you may likely qualify for the 9/11 lifetime healthcare plus payment of tax-free compensation.

The NYC “Exposure Zone”

The NYC “Exposure Zone” is defined as the “area of Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street/East Broadway/Clinton Street.” 

The boundaries for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund differ from the boundaries for WTC Health Program eligibility. Our firm will also aid in your registration with the WTC Health Program to have your conditions confirmed as being 9/11-related. 

VCF cancer payouts are among the most frequent of 9/11 claims.

VCF "Covered Conditions"

What Illnesses May Qualify?

Not all illnesses and conditions qualify for VCF compensation. Before proceeding with a claim for 9/11 VCF payment, the World Trade Center Health Program must certify your illness as 9/11 related. There are many different illnesses, conditions, chronic disabling breathing diseases, and cancers that qualify.

The cancers that qualify for 9/11 World Trade Center Health Program coverage and September 11th Victim Compensation Fund compensation are:

Blood and Lymphoid Tissue (including, but not limited to, lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma), including:

  • Acute erythremia and erythroleukemia
  • Acute leukemia of unspecified cell type
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Acute megakaryoblastic leukemia
  • Acute monocytic leukemia
  • Acute myelofibrosis
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Acute myelomonocytic leukemia
  • Acute panmyelosis
  • Acute promyelocytic leukemia
  • Adult T-cell leukemia
  • Alpha heavy chain disease
  • B-cell lymphoma, unspecified
  • Burkitt’s tumor
  • Chronic erythremia
  • Chronic leukemia of unspecified cell type
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Chronic monocytic leukemia
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Diffuse non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Diffuse non-Hodgkin lymphoma, unspecified
  • Follicular (nodular) non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Follicular non-Hodgkin
  • Gamma heavy chain disease
  • Hairy-cell leukemia
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Hodgkin’s disease, unspecified
  • Immunoblastic (diffuse)
  • Immunoproliferative small intestinal disease
  • Large cell (diffuse)
  • Large cell, follicular
  • Leukemia of unspecified cell type
  • Leukemia, unspecified
  • Leukemias, others specified
  • Lymphoblastic (diffuse)
  • Lymphocytic depletion
  • Lymphocytic predominance
  • Lymphoepithelioid lymphoma
  • Lymphoid leukemia
  • Lymphoid leukemia, unspecified
  • Lymphoid, hematopoietic and related tissue, other specified
  • Lymphoid, hematopoietic and related tissue, unspecified
  • Lymphoma, unspecified
  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Malignant histiocytosis
  • Malignant immunoproliferative disease, unspecified
  • Malignant immunoproliferative diseases
  • Malignant mast cell tumor
  • Mast cell leukemia
  • Mixed cellularity
  • Mixed small and large cell (diffuse)
  • Mixed small cleaved and large cell, follicular
  • Monocytic leukemia
  • Monocytic leukemia, unspecified
  • Multifocal and multisystemic (disseminated) Langerhans-cell histiocytosis
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Multiple myeloma and malignant plasma cell neoplasms
  • Mycosis fungoides
  • Myeloid leukemia
  • Myeloid leukemia, other
  • Myeloid leukemia, unspecified
  • Myeloid sarcoma
  • Nodular sclerosis
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, other unspecified
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, unspecified type
  • Other and unspecified lymphoid, hematopoietic, and related tissue
  • Other and unspecified types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Other Hodgkin’s disease
  • Other leukemia of unspecified cell type
  • Other leukemias of specified cell type
  • Other lymphoid leukemia
  • Other malignant immunoproliferative diseases
  • Other monocytic leukemia
  • Other types of diffuse non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Other types of follicular non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Peripheral and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
  • Peripheral T-cell lymphomas
  • Plasma cell leukemia
  • Plasmacytoma, extramedullary
  • Prolymphocytic leukemia
  • Sezary’s disease
  • Small cell (diffuse)
  • Small cleaved cell (diffuse)
  • Small cleaved cell, follicular
  • Subacute leukemia of unspecified cell type
  • Subacute lymphocytic leukemia
  • Subacute monocytic leukemia
  • Subacute myeloid leukemia
  • T-cell lymphomas, other and unspecified
  • T-zone lymphoma
  • True histiocytic lymphoma
  • Undifferentiated (diffuse)
  • Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia

Digestive System

  • Abdominal part Cervical part
  • Angiosarcoma of liver
  • Appendix
  • Ascending colon
  • Body Cardia
  • Caecum
  • Colon
  • Colon, unspecified
  • Descending colon
  • Esophagus
  • Esophagus, unspecified
  • Fundus
  • Greater curvature, unspecified
  • Hepatic flexure
  • Hepatoblastoma
  • Ill-defined sites within the digestive system
  • Intestinal tract, part unspecified
  • Intrahepatic bile duct carcinoma
  • Lesser curvature, unspecified
  • Liver and intrahepatic bile ducts
  • Liver cell carcinoma
  • Liver, unspecified
  • Lower third
  • Middle third
  • Other and ill-defined digestive organs
  • Other sarcomas of liver
  • Other specified carcinomas of liver
  • Overlapping lesion
  • Overlapping lesion of colon
  • Overlapping lesion of digestive system
  • Peritoneum, unspecified
  • Pyloric antrum
  • Pylorus
  • Rectosigmoid junction
  • Rectum
  • Retroperitoneum
  • Retroperitoneum and peritoneum
  • Sigmoid colon
  • Specified parts of peritoneum
  • Splenic flexure
  • Stomach
  • Stomach, unspecified
  • Thoracic part
  • Transverse colon
  • Upper third

Eye and Orbit

  • Choroid
  • Ciliary body
  • Conjunctiva
  • Cornea
  • Eye and Adnexa
  • Eye, unspecified
  • Lacrimal gland and duct
  • Orbit
  • Overlapping lesion
  • Retina

Male and Female Breast Cancer

  • Auxiliary tail Breast, unspecified
  • Breast
  • Central portion
  • Lower-inner quadrant
  • Lower-outer quadrant
  • Nipple and areola
  • Overlapping lesion
  • Upper-inner quadrant
  • Upper-outer quadrant

Female Reproductive Organs

  • Ovary

Head and Neck

  • Accessory sinuses
  • Accessory, unspecified
  • Anterior Floor, unspecified
  • Anterior surface of epiglottis
  • Anterior two-thirds, part unspecified
  • Anterior wall
  • Aryepiglottic fold, hypopharyngeal aspect
  • Base of tongue
  • Border
  • Branchial cleft
  • Cheek mucosa
  • Commissure
  • Dorsal surface
  • Ethmoidal
  • External lip, unspecified
  • External lower lip
  • External upper lip
  • Floor of mouth
  • Frontal
  • Glottis
  • Gum
  • Gum, unspecified
  • Hard palate Overlapping lesion
  • Hypopharynx
  • Hypopharynx, unspecified
  • Laryngeal cartilage
  • Larynx
  • Larynx, unspecified
  • Lateral
  • Lateral wall
  • Lingual tonsil
  • Lip
  • Lip, unspecified
  • Lip, unspecified, inner aspect
  • Lower
  • Lower lip, inner aspect
  • Major salivary gland, unspecified
  • Maxillary
  • Mouth, unspecified
  • Nasal cavity
  • Nasopharynx
  • Nasopharynx, unspecified
  • Oropharynx
  • Oropharynx, unspecified
  • Other and ill-defined conditions in the lip, oral cavity, and pharynx
  • Other and unspecified major salivary glands
  • Other and unspecified part of the mouth
  • Other and unspecified parts of the tongue
  • Overlapping lesion
  • Overlapping lesion of lip, oral cavity, and pharynx
  • Palate
  • Palate, unspecified
  • Parotid gland
  • Pharynx, unspecified
  • Piriform sinus
  • Postcricoid region
  • Posterior wall
  • Retromolar area
  • Soft palate
  • Sphenoidal
  • Subglottis
  • Sublingual gland
  • Submandibular gland
  • Superior wall
  • Supraglottis
  • Tongue, unspecified
  • Tonsil
  • Tonsil, unspecified
  • Tonsillar fossa
  • Tonsillar pillar (anterior/posterior)
  • Upper
  • Upper lip, inner aspect
  • Uvula
  • Vallecula
  • Ventral surface
  • Vestibule
  • Waldeyer’s ring

Respiratory System

  • Anterior mediastinum
  • Bronchus and lung
  • Bronchus or lung, unspecified
  • Heart
  • Heart, mediastinum, and pleura
  • Ill-defined sites within the respiratory system
  • Lower lobe, bronchus or lung
  • Main bronchus
  • Mediastinum, part unspecified
  • Middle lobe, bronchus or lung
  • Other and ill-defined sites in the respiratory system and intrathoracic organs
  • Overlapping lesion
  • Pleura
  • Posterior mediastinum
  • Trachea
  • Upper lobe, bronchus or lung
  • Upper respiratory tract, part unspecified

Skin (Melanoma and non-Melanoma)

  • Ear and external auricular canal
  • Eyelid, including canthus
  • Lip
  • Lower limb, including hip
  • Malignant melanoma of skin
  • Other and unspecified parts of face
  • Other malignant neoplasms of skin
  • Overlapping lesion
  • Overlapping malignant melanoma of skin
  • Scalp and neck
  • Scrotum
  • Skin, unspecified
  • Trunk
  • Upper limb, including shoulder

Soft Tissue

  • Abdomen
  • Head, face, and neck
  • Lower limb, including hip
  • Other connective and soft tissue
  • Overlapping lesion
  • Pelvis
  • Peripheral nerves and autonomic nervous system
  • Thorax
  • Trunk, unspecified
  • Unspecified
  • Upper limb, including shoulder


  • Thyroid gland

Urinary System

  • Anterior wall Bladder neck
  • Bladder
  • Bladder, unspecified
  • Dome
  • Kidney
  • Lateral wall

Other and unspecified urinary organs

  • Overlapping lesion
  • Paraurethral gland
  • Posterior wall
  • Prostate
  • Renal pelvis
  • Trigone
  • Urachus
  • Ureter
  • Ureteric orifice
  • Urethra
  • Urinary organ, unspecified


  • Mesothelioma
  • Other sites
  • Pericardium
  • Peritoneum
  • Pleura
  • Unspecified

Rare Cancers:

This includes, but is not limited to, the following types of cancer:

  • Malignant neoplasms of the
  • Adrenal gland and other endocrine glands and related structures
  • Anus and anal canal
  • Bone and articular cartilage
  • Breast among men
  • Gallbladder and other parts of biliary tract
  • Malignant neuroendocrine neoplasm, including carcinoid tumors
  • Meninges, brain, spinal cord, cranial nerves, and other parts of central nervous system
  • Myeloid neoplasms, including myelodysplastic syndromes, myeloproliferative neoplasms, myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms, and myeloid malignancies associated with eosinophilia and abnormalities of growth factor receptors derived from platelets or fibroblasts
  • Pancreas
  • Penis and testis
  • Placenta
  • Small intestine
  • Thymus
  • Vulva, vagina, and cervix uteri (invasive only)

The Aerodigestive or Non-Cancerous Conditions

The conditions that quality for 9/11 World Trade Center Health Program coverage and September 11th Victim Compensation Fund compensation are:

These are just a few of the many different types of illnesses, cancers, diseases, and disorders that qualify for coverage. In fact, many individuals are surprised to learn that they qualify for VCF compensation. However, even if you do not see your illness listed, you may qualify for VCF compensation. Your attorney can review your medical records and meet with you to discuss your illness and how you should proceed.

It can take time to file a VCF claim. As such, if you suffer from a terminal illness, such as stage 4 cancer, your lawyer can expedite your claim. This enables severely ill survivors the ability to recover compensation when they need it most. Your 9/11 attorney can also expedite your claim if you suffer from financial hardship. The VCF will evaluate these claims quicker and more efficiently, so do not delay.

What’s Your Story?

Hansen & Rosasco - 9/11 Cancer ClaimIf you were in New York near Ground Zero in the months after 9/11 and suffered an illness at any time in the last 19 years since the attacks, we know you have a story. You deserve to tell that story and get the help you need. An experienced 9/11 attorney will listen to your story and determine if you qualify for compensation and medical benefits. Call today to learn more about your options and start getting the benefits you deserve.

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