9/11 VCF History & Information

American Flag Freedom Tower on the water

How was the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund created?

Shortly before 9AM on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 the first of four brutal and devastating attacks on American soil were carried out by Al-Qaeda terrorists using commercial airplanes as weapons. The New York City landscape and life in the United States and around the world would be forever changed. Close to 3,000 people were murdered that morning at three different locations: the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, the Pentagon in Washington, DC and an open field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 

First responder at Ground Zero following the attacks

Within days of the attacks, the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act was established. This act was intended to help stabilize the economy by limiting the airlines’ legal exposure. Under Title IV of the Act, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (9/11 VCF) was created. The original fund, which operated from 2001 to 2004, provided financial aid to first responders and survivors who suffered physical injuries and to the families of those who died in the attacks. 

The original compensation fund limited eligibility to only those people who were present at one of the crash sites or within its immediate vicinity. The 9/11 VCF also initially limited the specified the time frame for a qualifying presence at a site to the immediate 12 hours following the attacks. 

Kreindler has secured more than $4 billion in 9/11 VCF awards for our clients

What does the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund provide?

The September 11th VCF provides compensation to all eligible victims who have a cancer or an illness certified by the World Trade Center Health Program. It is estimated that there are close to 400,000 people who may have been exposed to toxins at 9/11 exposure sites. 

The government’s September 11th Victim Compensation Fund: 

  • has awarded over $10 billion to qualified victims 
  • is fully funded to compensate all eligible claims

The claim filing deadline is October 1, 2090, but separate registration deadlines apply for each individual case. Visit our September 11th Victim Compensation Fund practice page to learn more.

Are you eligible to collect
9/11 Compensation?

Click to enlarge map of NYC Exposure Zone

What are the qualifying exposure areas?

  • Lower Manhattan below Canal Street
  • Debris removal sites and routes
  • The Pentagon crash site in Washington, DC
  • Shanksville, Pennsylvania crash site

Were you in the Exposure Zone after 9/11?

The VCF encourages anyone who was in one of the exposure areas between September 11, 2001 to May 30, 2002 to register. You do not have to have a current diagnosis in order to register. Registration is not the same as filing a claim. The registration process preserves the right to file your claim in the future, waives no legal rights, and does not obligate you to file a claim. 

In 2011, the Victim Compensation Fund reopened to include not only first responders, but also residents, workers, students and visitors.

The VCF expands to include more victims.

Although the original VCF stopped operating in 2004, thousands of people who spent time near one of the disaster areas continued to get sick. Medical evidence proved the toxic environment that developed following the attacks lasted longer than the previously defined 12-hour window and went beyond the radius of the original disaster areas. Experts also concluded that surviving victims were developing new health conditions, including cancers, airway diseases, and gastrointestinal disorders related to their exposure to the toxic air caused by the terrorist attacks.

Who currently qualifies for compensation from the 9/11 VCF?

The 9/11 VCF is not just for first responders. Any person who was present at an exposure area during the immediate aftermath (September 11, 2001 - May 30, 2002) and has a certified 9/11-related condition should file for compensation including:

  • First responders 
  • Survivors
  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Residents
  • Medical workers
  • Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) employees
  • Wall Street workers
  • Bankers
  • City workers
  • Volunteers
  • Families of victims

In 2022, more VCF claims were filed by survivors than first responders. However, many survivors continue to be unaware of their eligibility.

Have you been diagnosed with cancer?

History of compensation through the Zadroga Act and reopening of the September 11th VCF

Additional bills were drafted to continue support of 9/11 responders and survivors who were experiencing health related issues. At the beginning of 2011, President Obama signed the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act of 2010, commonly referred to as the Zadroga Act. Named in honor of New York City police officer James Zadroga, who died of a cardiac disease caused by his exposure to toxins at Ground Zero, the Zadroga Act reactivated and modified the 9/11 VCF. 

The new 9/11 VCF was expanded to assist first responders, recovery workers, and clean-up crews who experienced injuries associated with the attacks or its subsequent debris removal. The qualifying time frame of exposure was extended from the first 12 hours following the attacks through May 30, 2002. Funding for the 9/11 VCF was increased to $7.375 billion. 

The Zadroga Act also enabled the formation of the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP). A treatment and monitoring program for 9/11 victims, the WTCHP was initially created to care for first responders, recovery personnel, and sanitation crews.

What is the role of the WTCHP?

  • Offers free health services to eligible 9/11 survivors
  • Establishes certification of medical conditions for those seeking 9/11 VCF compensation
  • Does not provide financial compensation

Shortly after the Zadroga Act was signed, a new special master, Sheila Birnbaum, was assigned to administer the 9/11 VCF. On day one, Special Master Birnbaum met with Kreindler managing partner Noah Kushlefsky. Noah had been described by the VCF’s first special master Sheila Birnbaum as being influential during the wake of 9/11 in the development of the methodology for the original Victim Compensation Fund, also known as VCF1.

What are Noah Kushlefsky and Kreindler doing for the 9/11 community?

Partner Noah Kushlefsky and the Kreindler 9/11 VCF team
  • Noah was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Committee by a federal court for all 9/11-related liability litigation
  • Noah acted as Special Counsel for the World Trade Center Disaster Site Litigation
  • Kreindler has served as legal counsel to thousands of 9/11 victims
  • Kreindler has secured over $4 billion in awards for 9/11 victims
  • Noah is a frequent speaker, sharing his knowledge of 9/11 case law

What did the reauthorization of the Zadroga Act do?

In 2015, President Obama reauthorized the federal law and the following changes were made:

  • redefined a 9/11 survivor to include any person who worked, resided, or attended schools near the New York City Disaster Area.
  • expanded the VCF for an additional five years.
  • modified the program’s procedures for determining eligibility and its methodology for estimating compensation.

How is 9/11 VCF eligibility determined?

Determining eligibility for compensation with the VCF requires claimants to:

  • register with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
  • provide certification of a 9/11-related physical injury or medical condition.
  • show “Proof of Presence” at an exposure zone for any duration of time after the attacks from September 11, 2001 through May 30, 2002.

Are you eligible for the September 11th
Victim Compensation Fund?

2019 - VCF Allows for Permanent Funding

During 2019, fearing that the Fund was running out of money, the VCF’s special master, Rupa Bhattacharyya, sounded the alarm. Congress worked to avoid that outcome and on July 29, 2019, President Donald Trump signed the “Never Forget The Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.” The new law, called the “VCF Permanent Authorization Act”, provided the Fund with permanent funding, enabling it to deliver financial payouts to every qualified survivor. The act extended the claim filing deadline to October 1, 2090. 

Due to individual registration deadlines, the VCF encourages people who know they were in one of the exposure zones between 9/11/2001 and 5/30/2002 to go ahead and register with the VCF - even if they do not have a qualifying illness at the time of registration. Registering preserves the person’s right to file for compensation at a later date after being diagnosed with a qualifying illness.

Registering with the 9/11 VCF

Over 100,000 responders and survivors have filed claims with the VCF since 2001. According to the CDC, 400,000 individuals were exposed to hazardous chemicals and inhalants after the 9/11 attacks. If you spent any period of time at a 9/11 exposure area after the attacks but before May 30, 2002, you should register with the 9/11 VCF.

VCF Special Master Bhattacharyya has stated, “If you were there,” at an exposure zone during the attack aftermath, “you should register.” 

Registration is the first step in starting the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund process. Doing so protects a victim’s right to file a 9/11 VCF claim should they develop a 9/11-related illness at any point in the future. Visit our 9/11 cancer page to learn more.

Are you eligible to collect
9/11 Cancer Compensation?

Who should register with the VCF?

  • Anyone, including healthy individuals, who were present at a 9/11 exposure site during the VCF’s accepted time frame 
  • First responders, clean-up staff, volunteers, NYC medical examiner personnel, Lower Manhattan employees, residents, students, tourists
  • Registration is recommended regardless of the duration an individual was present at an affected location 

Our Kreindler Intake team can help you register. 

Registration is free and we’re happy to assist.

Hiring an Experienced VCF Attorney

Registering and filing a claim with the VCF does not require hiring an attorney, but using an experienced 9/11 VCF attorney helps victims in several ways:

  • Kreindler’s team can help maximize your claim - ensuring that you receive every cent you’re entitled to.
  • Kreindler’s experienced team can minimize the chance that a claim is denied by the VCF due to a lack of documentation or a missed deadline.
  •  Kreindler’s experienced team can help file an appeal to a VCF decision if we think an award is too low or if we think we can help reverse a denial. 
  • Kreindler’s experienced team can assist existing September 11th VCF award recipients who have developed a new or worsening health problem to file an amended claim for additional compensation

More advantages to using an attorney:

  • Familiar with complicated processes 
  • Knows individual deadlines determined by the 9/11 VCF
  • Acquainted with the many forms and required documents 
  • Able to advise how to locate old records, aquire independent third-party documentation and record an affidavit (if necessary) to establish Proof of Presence
  • Can file an appeal if your initial claim is rejected
  • Fee for hiring a attorney to help with your September 11th VCF claim is limited by law to 10% of the claim award.
  • You pay nothing if you receive no compensation

Find Out If
You're Eligible.

Kreindler Continues to Help 9/11 Victims

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund exists to provide financial assistance to people who have been diagnosed with cancer and serious illnesses due to the toxic conditions that existed in Lower Manhattan during the 8 months following September 11, 2001. 

Like so many New Yorkers, managing partner Noah Kushlefsky was at work in New York city the day of the 9/11 attacks and the ensuing losses and devastation has become a significant part of the firm and Noah’s career ever since. Today, over twenty years later, Kreindler has a team of over 20 legal professionals who continue to focus their work every day on representing 9/11 victims and their families.