Personal Injury

What is the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund?

September 29, 2021

The VCF was established shortly after September 11, 2001 and has paid out more than $7 billion to approximately 2,700 individuals who have been injured, as well as to 2,800 family survivors.

9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) provides significant potential compensation to any individual (and some relatives of a deceased individual) who has been diagnosed with a 9/11-related illness after being at the World Trade Center or the surrounding area; the Pentagon crash site; or the Shanksville, Pennsylvania crash site, between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002.

There are over a dozen different types of cancers that could qualify as a 9/11-related illness necessary for compensation under the VCF. 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. According to the World Trade Center health Program, approximately 18,000 people who were exposed to toxic substances such as asbestos, jet fuel, and heavy metals have been diagnosed with subsequent cancer related to this exposure. This number is only expected to increase.  

Potential compensation under the Fund

The VCF was established shortly after September 11, 2001, and has paid out more than $7 billion to approximately 2,700 individuals who have been injured as well as to 2,800 family survivors. Because of the long latency of many 9/11-related illnesses, as well as public pressure, Congress recently agreed to extend payment under the VCF through 2090. Specifically, the VCF allows claimants 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.

Historically, individuals filing claims for compensation from the VCF have often received widely varying amounts. 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.

In addition, the VCF Special Master is authorized to approve additional amounts of compensation under particularly severe circumstances.  

Applying for compensation

If you believe you may qualify for compensation under the VCF, either for yourself or a loved one, you should visit www.vcf.gov for more information.  You are not required to hire an attorney to file a VCF claim; however, the process is somewhat complicated and requires significant documentation, so assistance from an attorney may be beneficial. Also, under the VCF rules, attorney fees are limited to 10% of any future recovery—much less than typically charged by contingency fee attorneys in personal injury actions.

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