VCF Releases Update Showing Progress of 9/11 Compensation ClaimsMar 15, 2017
VCF Made 11,500 Determinations Totaling $2.27B by End of 2016
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which provides compensation to sick and injured 9/11 responders and survivors, has released its 5th Annual Report detailing its progress on compensation determinations. According to a Mar. 13, 2017 message from Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya, the fund made over 11,500 compensation determinations totaling $2.27 billion by the end of 2016.
Parker Waichman LLP is a national personal injury law firm that has fought for the rights of 9/11 responders and survivors since the beginning. The firm continues to advocate for 9/11 heroes.
According to the report, 25,318 people registered with the VCF have submitted eligibility forms as of Dec. 31, 2016. The Fund has determined that 15,851 claims are eligible for compensation while 4,811 were deemed non-eligible. Compensation determinations for Group A claims have all been paid, the report states. The Fund has made 2,424 Group B Compensation determinations.
The report shows that a total of 9,125 Group A claim determinations have been made. 9/11 responders accounted for 7,732 claims; 1,096 claims were non-responders, and 108 were injured residents. Among the 2,424 Group B claims, 1,876 claims were for responders; non-responders and residents accounted for 402 and 55 claims, respectively.
9/11 Health Watch commented on the report in a statement, which reads in part, "911 Health Watch wants to commend Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya and her staff for the dedication they have shown in working to process claims and for the cooperative manner that they have made with the 9/11 Responder and Survivor community."
"911 Health Watch will continue to monitor the progress the VCF is making to ensure that 9/11 responders and survivors and their families who are still suffering from the impact of 9/11, now over 15 years later get the assistance they need and deserve as soon as possible."
VCF Benefits and Zadroga Background
The VCF and the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program are the two programs funded through the Zadroga Act, which was first signed into law in 2011. The WTC Health Program provides free medical treatment and monitoring to 9/11 responders and survivors. In late 2015, the Zadroga Act was reauthorized, making the WTC Health Program permanent and keeping the VCF open for an additional five years.
Parker Waichman is proud to have stood alongside 9/11 responders, survivors, lawmakers, and other advocates to ensure the passage of the Zadroga Act, its amendments, and its renewal.
When the Zadroga Act was reauthorized, it provided an additional $3.5 billion to fund the WTC Health Program. The program is essentially permanent, as it is funded until 2090. The VCF has received an additional $4.6 billion in funding.
Statistics show that more people are developing 9/11-related conditions as time goes on. A total of 75,000 people receive medical treatment and monitoring through the WTC Health Program. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an additional 2,500 people enrolled into the program during the one-year period ending Jun. 30, 2016. Responders and rescue workers make up most of the new enrollees.
9/11-Related Illnesses and WTC Exposure
Various medical conditions are eligible for coverage under the Zadroga Act. This includes dozens of different cancers, airway and digestive disorders, and mental health conditions. Many responders, residents and other individuals nearby were exposed to a cloud of toxic dust when the twin towers fell. Responders and rescue workers who helped clean up the debris ("the pile") had even greater exposure.
The toxic dust cloud contained hazardous substances such as asbestos; pulverized cement; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); benzene; dioxin; glass fibers; gypsum; jet fuel; heavy metals, including lead and other chemicals.
Studies continue to link WTC-exposure to various health conditions. A recent study published on Mar 9. 2017 in Health Psychology studied posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and lower respiratory symptoms in smokers who were WTC-exposed. The study found that treating symptoms of PTSD also improved lower respiratory symptoms.
PTSD is one of several mental health conditions associated with 9/11. Other conditions include generalized anxiety disorder and depression.
WTC-exposure is also heavily linked to various respiratory conditions. The journal Current Allergy and Asthma Reports published a study in 2017 confirming that 9/11 is related to airway disease. "Since 2011, studies have confirmed relationships between initial World Trade Center exposure intensity, severity of symptoms, airway disease diagnoses, and biomarkers of disease progression. Studies continue to document ongoing morbidity in rescue/recovery workers over 10 years after 9/11," the authors wrote. "Future research should further identify correlates of symptom persistence and new airway disease diagnoses. The unique characteristics of the airway diseases in this population warrant ongoing monitoring and treatment."
The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine published two studies suggesting that WTC-exposure is associated with nerve problems, including neuropathy and paresthesia. Patients with nerve damage may experience tingling, numbness, burning, skin crawling, or itching. Researchers said the findings suggest that neuropathy, which is not an eligible condition, should be covered under the Zadroga Act.
"As neuropathy treatment in responders is currently not covered under the WTC program, our findings have strong policy implications and suggest that neuropathy should be added to the list of conditions covered," authors stated.
Another study published in the journal focused on lung function; researchers found that lung injuries associated with 9/11 tend to be permanent.
In fall of 2016, the Journal of Human Resources published a study suggesting that WTC-exposure is associated with negative birth outcomes, including low birth weight and premature delivery. Women who were in their first trimester during the attacks were twice as likely to have a premature delivery, the authors said.
Legal Help for 9/11 Responders and Survivors
Parker Waichman is proud to have fought alongside Ground Zero residents, workers, first responders, and other survivors and advocates, to help ensure passage of Zadroga Act amendments. The firm vows to continue its efforts to safeguard all those who were exposed to Ground Zero's toxic cloud and the trauma of the attacks, and ensure that all the deserved Zadroga Act compensation is received. To determine eligibility for compensation under the Act, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).