What is the Statute of Limitations on Zadroga Act Claims?
If you or a loved one has a 9/11-related illness or physical injury, there’s still time to seek compensation for lost past and future wages under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. But you must register with the Zadroga Act September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, or VCF, no later than December 18, 2020.
You might think that because a personal or family doctor diagnosed the condition years ago, you or your loved one might not be eligible to file a claim. But that’s not the case. Even if you or your loved one has not sought treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program, the VCF still can evaluate your claim for compensation.
In fact, the VCF also will evaluate claims seeking compensation for victims whose death was the result of a 9/11-related physical injury or condition, as long as a personal representative of the deceased files a claim within two years of the person’s death and no later than December 18, 2020.
The Zadroga Act of 2010 reactivated and expanded the VCF, enabling rescue, demolition, and cleanup workers, as well as volunteers, to file for compensation if they responded to any of the three 9/11 attack sites (the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Flight 93’s crash site in Shanksville, Pa.).
People also may apply for compensation as “NYC Survivors” if they lived, worked, attended school or a day-care facility, or otherwise were present in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, and the months afterward.
The Zadroga Act also established the WTC Health Program, which treats and monitors people diagnosed with 9/11-related illnesses and injuries at no cost. But being a patient of this program or being certified by this program is not a requirement for a compensation claim. In fact, treatment or monitoring under the WTC Health Program does not automatically file a person’s claim for compensation through the VCF.
An Approaching Deadline
With the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurring more than a decade ago, it’s understandable that some responders or survivors might think that a statute of limitations on filing for lost and future wages has expired.
However, in 2015, President Barack Obama signed a bill reauthorizing Zadroga Act, extending the deadline for filing VCF claims to December 18, 2020.
The same bill renewed health coverage under the WTC Health Program until 2090.
Fund records show that as of December 31, 2017, the VCF has awarded $3.3 billion since 2011. The VCF receives tens of thousands of eligibility claims each year and estimates that it can issue an award determination within 18 months of receiving all required information, depending on a claim’s type and complexity.
Some people also might have become confused about when to file a claim because the VCF has revised its registration deadlines over the years. For instance, the fund revised its deadlines in 2016 after the WTC Health Program added rare cancers to its list of 9/11-related conditions. The agency recognized that some applicants might have been diagnosed with such a cancer but were unaware that it was related to their 9/11 exposure.
Regardless, anyone who has not filed a previous claim as a Responder to a 9/11 site or as a NYC Survivor of lower Manhattan can register with the VCF no later than December 18, 2020.
This includes people with cancer, including rare cancers, as well as non-cancer conditions. This also applies to representatives of people who have died of a 9/11-related illness or injury.
For a comprehensive list of 9/11-related injuries and physical conditions, click here. (Please note: Although the WTC Health Program treats and monitors mental-health conditions such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, the VCF does not consider mental-health conditions as the basis for compensation.)
To File a Zadroga Act Claim
You can file a claim for compensation on behalf of yourself, as a personal representative of a deceased individual, as a parent or guardian of a minor, or as a guardian of a non-minor.
If you or your loved one was an active firefighter working for FDNY on September 11, 2001, you do not need to submit any documentation with your claim form. VCF will obtain verification of that person’s presence directly from FDNY.
Also, if the victim received an award through the original September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (active from 2001 to 2004), you do not need to submit proof of presence to reapply.
All other claimants need to supply documents that verify where the victim was on September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002. For Responders, including cleanup workers and volunteers, these include:
- Employer records, such as pay stubs showing work dates and location
- Union records
- Personnel or agency rosters
- Site credentials
- Any orders, instructions, or confirmation of tasks performed at a 9/11 site
For NYC Survivors — people who lived, worked, or otherwise were in lower Manhattan during these dates, including those caught in the dust cloud when the World Trade Center collapsed — documents may include:
- Employer records or pay stubs showing the date and location of employment
- A dated utility bill or lease
- Rent or mortgage receipts
- School or day-care records confirming enrollment
- A school transcript
The application also may include sworn and notarized affidavits, or unsworn statements complying with federal law, from anyone who can attest to the victim’s presence during the relevant dates.
If the victim has not been treated under the WTC Health Program, the VCF also will need medical records from the private physician who diagnosed the victim’s 9/11-related condition.
How the Marcowitz Law Firm Can Help
The Marcowitz Law Firm concentrates on representing people injured by toxic exposures from the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. Edward Marcowitz is deeply honored and proud to serve as the personal attorney for the family of James Zadroga, the NYPD detective for whom the benefits act is named.
If you have additional questions about whether you qualify to register for compensation, or about the deadline to file a claim, please call us or contact us online now.