After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, a federal program called “The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001” was established to pay the victims of those attacks. The multi-billion dollar program operated from 2001 to 2004 and accepted thousands of applications for compensation. One claim compensated for $1 million in 2004 was that of James Zadroga, the 1st New York City Police Officer whose death was caused by his exposure to toxic dust and chemicals as a “first-responder” to the World Trade Center. Zadroga, a healthy nonsmoker, contracted a lethal respiratory disease, which stole his life in 2006 when he was 1 month shy of his 35th birthday.
As the years elapsed after the September 11th attacks, medical providers and authorities realized that the most harmful effects of the September 11th attacks were not evinced for years. Consequently, on January 2, 2011, the President signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2011. This Act is notable for two Titles: Title I, which created the World Trade Center Health Program operated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; Title II, which resurrects the September 11th Compensation Fund.
Bankrolled by a $2.78 Billion Congressional appropriation, the Fund is dedicated to compensating any individual (or a deceased individual’s personal representative) who endured physical harm or was killed as a result of the September 11th terrorist aircraft crashes or as a result of debris removal occurring immediately after those crashes.
The Fund is headed by Sheila L. Birnbaum, a Special Master appointed by the U. S. Attorney General. Compensation from the Fund is basically a 3-step process: registration on the site; claim and supporting documentation submission for a determination of compensation eligibility; and, if the claim is eligible for compensation, a determination of the compensation amount. The Fund’s web site, which accepts registrations and claims, is found here:http://www.vcf.gov/genProgramInfo.html
On September 9, 2014, the Fund issued figures to show its progress and additional work to be accomplished: initial registrations with the Fund total 55,000+; 16,449 of those registrants submitted forms for an eligibility decision; 7,314 of those claims require additional documentation to reach an eligibility decision; 1,226 claims are now under review; 7,885 claims are deemed eligible for compensation; 1,843 of the eligible claims have been approved for compensation totaling nearly $500,000; 24 claims were denied.
The Fund started slowly in 2011, making only 112 compensation decisions in 2013, the first year of issuing payments. However, the program is now picking up speed, having decided compensation for approximately 700 claims in the past 2 months, and expects to settle claims rapidly in the future.
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