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9/11 Compensation for Cancer

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 left behind unimaginable destruction on that tragic day and in the ensuing weeks and months. Individuals at and around Ground Zero suffered injuries and illnesses following their experiences.

Sadly, over the last 20 years, thousands of the individuals who lived through the destruction and cleanup of the World Trade Center continue to suffer as they have fallen ill. Numerous people continue to learn they have one or more related cancers caused by the toxic dust they inhaled in the aftermath of 9/11.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a terrifying experience. If you, or someone you know, worked, lived, or were in the vicinity of Ground Zero and was diagnosed with cancer, it may be due to the toxic exposure received from the 9/11 events.

You also may be eligible for compensation from the World Trade Center Victim’s Compensation Fund (VCF) to help cover your cancer treatments, medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses.

Contact us today at 212-869-3500 to discuss your rights..

What is a Victim Compensation Fund Award?

Victims who receive specific medical diagnoses are eligible to receive a victim compensation fund payout award to help pay for expenses and losses associated with their disease.

President Bush initially authorized a fund shortly following the events of 9/11 by the U.S. government to help survivors and their families struggling with injury, illness, or wrongful death. By 2004, this original fund ran out.

An Act of Congress helped restore funding to help 9/11 victims when the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (Zadroga Act) was passed and subsequently signed by President Obama. However, in 2015 this fund would be depleted again. Congress reauthorized funding for an additional $4 billion for the next five years.

As 2019 arrived, the fund was again dangerously low, and information surfaced many people were learning of their cancer diagnoses all these years later. In response, Congress passed the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act (“VCF Permanent Authorization Act”), which was signed by President Trump, essentially giving the fund permanent funding since it expires on October 1, 2090.

This fund is overseen by the Department of Justice and Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya.

Do I qualify for compensation?

If you meet the specifications set by the guidelines associated with the fund, you may qualify for a WTC VCF payout. The fund does have criteria that must be met and approved to receive compensation.

  • Individuals eligible to apply for a VCF claim must have been a first responder, including NYPD, FDNY, Port Authority, and EMS workers. Additionally, residents, workers, students, daycare attendees, and anyone else who spent time in the exposure zone can qualify. Survivors of cancer victims who succumbed to their 9/11-related illness are also eligible to apply to the VCF.
  • Claimants (or their families) must have been in the exposure zone between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002. The exposure zone is generally considered to be the World Trade Center site and in Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street. Other exposure zones are the Pentagon and the crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
  • Victims are not required to have been present on September 11, 2001, to be eligible to file a claim with the VCF.

Individuals who meet these eligibility requirements must register with the fund. Registration protects their right to file a claim in the event they are diagnosed with cancer or another illness that qualifies a person to file a claim.

WTC Health Program classifications

The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) is a healthcare program overseen by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The WTCHP offers free medical treatment and monitoring for 9/11 victims who meet the criteria to participate. To qualify, you must fall into one of the following groups:

First Responders


Both active and retired members of the New York City Police Department are eligible to participate in the WTCHP. Many NYPD members were at Ground Zero on and after 9/11 involved with rescue, recovery, and related activities and exposed to hazardous conditions making them eligible to participate in the WTCHP.


Members of the New York City Fire Department were heavily involved in the rescue and recovery efforts of the terrorist attacks at Ground Zero and the other affected exposure zones. Any FDNY member, including firefighters and emergency personnel (both active and retired), are eligible to receive benefits offered by the WTCHP.

Port Authority Police and Employees

Many of the first responders at the World Trade Center site were members of the Port Authority Police and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and were exposed to toxic conditions, making them eligible to receive WTCHP benefits.

World Trade Center Survivors

Survivor eligibility is determined by the location an individual was at during the eligible timeframe and their role. The WTCHP defines 9/11 survivors as anyone who worked, lived, attended daycare, or went to school in the disaster zone. Essentially, anyone who spent time in the exposure zones. Currently, the time frame is for people who were present on September 11, 2001, through July 31, 2002, but certain exceptions do apply depending on a person’s situation.

A WTC attorney can advise you of these exceptions.

General Responders

General responders are individuals who volunteered or worked in rescue, recovery, debris removal, or cleanup south of Canal Street in Lower Manhattan, at the Staten Island Landfill, or while loading debris on one of the barges for removal.

New York City Port Authority Tunnel Workers

New York City Port Authority tunnel workers were subjected to toxic conditions during the course of their duties in the exposure zones and at risk for cancers that make them eligible for healthcare provided through the WTCHP.

NYC Morgue Workers & Chief Medical Examiner Employees

Employees associated with the NYC Morgue and Chief Medical Examiner’s office were closely involved with handling human remains and body bags, both of which were covered in toxic dust. This exposure can lead to potential adverse health conditions making these individuals eligible for WTCHP benefits.

Vehicle Maintenance Workers

Vehicle maintenance workers do not have any specific location requirements, but they must be able to demonstrate exposure to toxic dust during the course of their work duties. Many vehicles contained hazardous dust and debris, which may have exposed them to unsafe conditions that lead to serious illness.

First Responders at Pentagon or Pennsylvania Crash Sites

Individuals who helped with rescue, recovery, demolition, and debris cleanup at the Pentagon or at the Shanksville, Pennsylvania plane crash site may have been exposed to toxic conditions and eligible to participate in the WTCHP.

Cancer types eligible for a Victim Compensation Fund award

Over 75 different cancer types are eligible for a victim compensation award under the Zadroga Act. Cancers eligible for a VCF payout include lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma, and mesothelioma. Other cancers included on the list are dozens of types of cancers affecting the blood and lymphoid tissues, urinary system, digestive system, eye and orbit, female breast, female reproductive organs, head and neck, childhood cancers (any type diagnosed in a person under the age of 20), respiratory system, skin (melanoma and non-melanoma), soft tissues, and thyroid.

Many rare cancers have been diagnosed and directly linked to 9/11 exposure to dust and debris. It’s important to know this list is extensive, and it is common for an additional type of 9/11-related cancer to be routinely added to the list.

The CDC maintains a published list outlining the types of eligible cancers. If you or your loved one were in the exposure zone during the terrorist attacks or the aftermath and were diagnosed with cancer, you may be able to be certified so you can receive compensation.

Getting certifed from the WTC Health Program

The attorneys at the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm are very experienced with the certification process of the WTC Health Program and know how to expertly navigate the complicated process that’s involved in getting approved. Our attorneys will help you gather the documentation you need and get the paperwork organized to send in for review.

If approved, you’ll receive a Certification of Causation issued for your specific illness or cancer claim. This enables you to receive free healthcare and treatment for your cancer if you are unable to obtain it. Our lawyers will conduct ongoing monitoring of your certification application as it is a key element of approval to be able to file a VCF claim.

Registering and Providing Documentation for Your WTC VCF Claim

Filing a WTC VCF claim is a completely separate process from the WTCHP. Like the VCF award process, applying to the WTCHP is also a complex process. To begin the qualification process, you must be registered. Our attorneys will immediately register you with both programs so we can get the paperwork started to get your eligibility for healthcare and compensation approved.

Working Together

The Victim’s Compensation Fund is divided into two separate categories – economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include past and future losses of income, medical expenses, and daily living costs (transportation, childcare, etc.). Losses under the non-economic category include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, physical disabilities, and disfigurement.

The average VCF payout will vary depending upon individual circumstances. Administrators of the VCF fund calculate the award amounts with a complex formula that takes into account where they were located during the period of eligibility and the amount of time they were exposed to toxic elements.

Our attorneys are thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the Zadroga Act and the Victim’s Compensation Fund and will meticulously go through all of your documentation and ensure your applications are complete. Missing just one step can set back the process or result in a denial. We will make sure that does not happen.

Discuss your claim with an attorney today

At the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm, we are committed to helping the 9/11 survivors and their families receive justice and compensation for their pain and suffering. Living with a disease like cancer or the possibility you might be diagnosed with cancer due to 9/11 exposure is a terrifying experience.

If you or a loved one has suffered through the experience of 9/11, you may be eligible for compensation. We understand the hardships these uncertainties pose for you and your family. We know no amount of money will make up for your losses, but it can perhaps ease some of the burdens you carry, especially when it comes to expensive treatments or consistent monitoring of your health.

To learn more about the World Trade Center Health Program or the World Trade Center Victim’s Compensation Fund, call the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm today at 212-869-3500 or fill out our contact form to receive legal advice, ask questions, or to obtain general information. All of our legal services are without fee or cost to you unless and until compensation is obtained.

Even if you have been previously denied, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation because your situation may have changed or we can identify the detail that led to your denial and work to get it reversed.

Our personal injury lawyers are compassionate and sensitive to your needs. We promise to listen to you and hear your experience. Once the required information is gathered, we will work hard to file a VCF claim to get you the best recovery possible.