During the September 11th terrorist attacks, which crashed two commercial passenger airplanes against the World Trade Center (WTC), the United States (U.S.) federal government came up with institutional responses to address the impacts and consequences of the attacks on hapless civilians. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund or VCF was established to handle and process compensation claims originating from the 9/11 attacks.
The VCF handled compensation claims from victims and casualties at or around ground zero on 9/11. You might want to visit https://www.wtcvictimfund.com/ to know more information about this.
Ground zero includes the crash site and the immediate surroundings, which were exposed to the hazardous fumes and debris of the crash sites. This area provides for the whole of Lower Manhattan. It also includes other attack sites such as Shanksville in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon.
Creation Of VCF
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund or VCF was created to compensate victims and casualties, and surviving families of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. At first, the VCF covered individuals who suffered physical injuries or harm due to the terrorist attacks. They were eligible to file compensation claims.
Those who were killed due to the aircraft crashes or died as a result of efforts to remove the debris could be represented by their family members or personal representatives. The initial program accepted claims and ran from 2001 to 2004. But the granting of compensation to claims was stopped when the VCF ran out of funds.
From 2001 to 2003, the VCF received and processed thousands of compensation claims. Most of the claimants said they suffered physical injuries or that their family member was killed due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the American homeland. The VCF fully settled and awarded compensation to claims found to be valid and legitimate.
A few years later, however, some of those who weren’t direct victims or casualties of the 9/11 attacks began to complain that they were suffering from health conditions related to the attacks which occurred. Most of these new claimants were among those who were first to respond to the rescue efforts at that time.
They reported going through health problems relating to their injuries, illnesses, and traumas. These were mostly first responders going through the late onset of the effects and consequences of the injuries, illnesses, and traumas they suffered on 9/11.
Zadroga Act Reopened VCF In 2011
In 2011, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was signed. The law reactivated the September 11th VCF, and the fund started accepting claims again. It was given to operate for another five years and would end in October 2016.
From the time that the VCF was reopened in 2011, it accepted a total of over 67,000 eligibility claims for health-related compensation or personal injuries sustained. Out of this total number of claims, around 40,000 claimants were awarded compensation for their claims. The total sum of all these awards has already run up to about USD$8.95 billion.
A recent report published in time for the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks stated that data from all the claims seemed to show that cancer is the most common eligible condition that claimants cite as their basis for claiming compensation. Nearly half (48%) of all claimants cited cancer as the ground of their compensation claim.
Claims from all around the United States, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have been filed. The VCF has received and processed documents and claims from 31 different foreign countries.
On December 18th of 2015, funding was reauthorized under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. The new law reauthorized funding to accept new claims to be filed until December 18th of 2020. The reauthorization made some changes to the VCF’s policies and procedures.
It included a method for evaluating claims and calculating the loss for which each claimant could receive compensation.
- Compensation for claims of non-economic loss as a result of cancer was capped at USD$250,000.
- Compensation for claims of non-economic loss that wasn’t the result of cancer was capped at USD$30,000.
- The Special Master was instructed to prioritize claims of victims who were suffering from the most severe or debilitating physical conditions.
- The law set the cap at USD$200,000 on Annual Gross Income (AGI) for every year of loss to compute the economic loss.
- The minimum award previously set at USD$10,000 was removed.
In 2019, the Special Master determined that the remaining funds of the VCF would no longer be enough to pay for all the claims under the policies and procedures of the VCF at that time. This determination was based on the claims that were already pending and those projected to be considered for funding.
How Much Can You Recover
The VCF has a Health Registry. The registry monitors the health of everyone who was directly affected or was among those directly affected by the 9/11 attacks. The VCF has already received a total of 7,508 claims from around 75 countries all over the world. Approximately 5,560 claims have already been awarded and fully paid out of this total number. Compensation for these claims has already reached a total of USD$7 billion.
Of the total number of claims, the VCF received around 2,963 death claims. This number represents around 98% of all the families whose loved ones were among the fatalities who perished in the 9/11 attacks. Awards of compensation were given to 2,880 of these death claims. The average death claim awarded was around USD$2,082,128. One death claim was awarded USD$7.1 million, the highest death claims ever awarded so far.
There have been a total number of 4,445 claims from individuals who said they endured personal physical injuries. Of this total number, around 2,680 claims were approved. Payment has been made for claims which were found to be legitimate. The typical settlement amounts for personal injury claims range from as low as USD$500,000 up to as high as USD$8.6 million. Compensation awards from the VCF are tax-free.
The VCF came up with changes in its policies and procedures. It has set caps on eligible claims of compensation for non-economic losses. It has also established a cap on the Annual Gross Income in computing for economic losses.
In practice, death claims have been awarded a little more than USD$2 million on average. For personal injury claims, the average compensation has been USD$500,000, and the highest has been USD$8.6 million.