On September 11, 2001, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks took place in the United States, altering the course of history. Thousands of first responders—firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and countless others—courageously rushed to the scenes of destruction. Their heroic actions saved lives and provided crucial aid, but for many, these actions came at a great personal cost.
In the years following the attacks, many have developed serious health conditions linked to exposure to hazardous conditions and toxic debris at the attack sites. Recognizing the sacrifices made by these heroes, the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was established to provide compensation and support for medical care, lost earnings, and other damages.
First responders suffering from health issues related to 9/11 are eligible for this fund, but securing benefits can be a complex process. Our 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund lawyer is ready to help you with your claim.
Resources for 9/11 First Responders
To immediately access the resources at any point on this page, click the corresponding links below.
9/11 First Responders & Survivors
Pursuing a World Trade Center Health Program or VCF Claim
Medical Conditions Covered for First Responders
Proving You Were Present in the Exposure Zone
Applying For VCF Compensation or WTCHP Medical Care
Speak to a Lawyer Today
Is There a Difference Between 9/11 “First Responders” and “Survivors?”
Two main groups have sustained illnesses or injuries related to 9/11: first responders and survivors. Understanding this distinction is crucial, as it influences eligibility and access to various health and compensation programs.
A first responder is defined as anyone who worked or volunteered at the Ground Zero site between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002. This includes firefighters, police officers, military personnel, medical examiners, landfill workers at Staten Island who sorted through the debris from the attacks, and members of the media who reported from the site. First responders also include anyone who worked or volunteered to help with cleanup, debris removal, rescue, and recovery.
On the other hand, survivors include anyone who lived, worked, or was present in the surrounding areas affected by the events of 9/11. This may include residents, office workers, students, and others who were in the vicinity of the attacks and exposed to related environmental hazards.
Should You Pursue a World Trade Center Health Program or VCF Claim?
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which established two programs: the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP).
Although both programs address the health and financial impacts of 9/11, they have different scopes and requirements. Many first responders pursue claims with both the WTCHP and the VCF.
The VCF provides financial reimbursement for losses and damages resulting from 9/11-related health issues. This program is open to both first responders and survivors who were present in specific areas such as Lower Manhattan below Canal Street, on debris removal barges, at the Fresh Kills landfill, or in city morgues. If your claim is successful, you can receive financial restitution for physical harm and economic losses, including lost earnings and benefits, replacement services, and burial costs.
The WTCHP offers ongoing health monitoring and treatment for 9/11-related health conditions to both first responders and survivors who lived, worked, or went to school in the designated area. Compared to the VCF, this program covers a broader geographic area, including those present below Houston Street or within a 1.5-mile radius of the World Trade Center site in Western Brooklyn.
This program is primarily focused on the long-term health care and monitoring of individuals affected by the 9/11 attacks. It provides medical care for a wide range of physical health issues and mental health conditions associated with the event.
Medical Conditions Commonly Covered for First Responders
The toxic debris from 9/11 has manifested in a range of serious health conditions, including respiratory issues, internal organ damage, and over 70 types of cancer. If you were a 9/11 first responder and developed health problems in the years following the attacks, you can file a claim with the VCF and recover compensation to help treat your condition.
The VCF covers a wide range of illnesses, including but not limited to the following:
- Sleep apnea
- Prostate cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Colon cancer
- Interstitial lung disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
- Bladder cancer
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Proving That You Were Present in the Exposure Zone
If you plan on pursuing a VCF or WTCHP claim, you will need to prove your presence in the NYC Toxic Exposure Zone. Both programs have different requirements regarding proof of presence, and they also encompass different geographical zones. It is important to work with a lawyer who can help you understand these requirements and build a strong case.
To prove your eligibility for the VCF or the WTCHP, you must supply comprehensive documentation that details your work, your location in the Exposure Zone, and the number of hours that you worked. This may include:
- Employment records
- Official badges and credentials proving your service
- Photograph and video evidence
- Detailed personal logs or diaries
- Medical records and bills
- An affidavit from a witness who can attest to your presence in the Exposure Zone
Applying For VCF Compensation or WTCHP Medical Care
The application process for the VCF and WTCHP involves several critical steps. Applicants must first register with the VCF by their specific registration deadline, which varies based on their case:
- For personal injury claims, you must register within two years of the date on which you were notified that your physical health condition is 9/11-related.
- For cases involving a deceased claimant, the personal representative must file within two years of the date of death or the date on which the VCF verifies that the condition is 9/11-related.
- If you registered on or before July 29, 2021, you have met your registration deadline and your claim will be considered timely, should you choose to file.
Following this, applicants should apply for certification by the WTCHP for any 9/11-related health conditions. Once they have registered with the WTCHP, they must file a claim with the VCF by October 1, 2090.
Our Attorneys Are Ready to Help You With a First Responder 9/11 Claim
First responders who bravely served during 9/11 deserve the utmost support and recognition. However, many are still suffering due to exposure to toxic substances unleashed during this devastating attack. Recovering compensation through the VCF can be challenging, but hiring an attorney can help.
At Shapiro Legal Group, PLLC, we specialize in helping 9/11 heroes navigate the complexities of VCF claims. We are committed to securing the benefits you are entitled to, and we will not rest until you recover a fair award. If you’re a first responder seeking assistance with your VCF claim, contact us at (800) 220-0984 to learn more about your path forward.