Tens of thousands of victims suffered from the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and injured countless others. A substantial number of victims did not sustain physical injuries but were exposed to toxic dust that contained numerous substances that have been linked to cancer. Additionally, many of these victims face debilitating health conditions that have taken years to develop.
Some victims may still experience the consequences of exposure to toxic dust in years or decade to come. Conditions such as mesothelioma and other cancers do not develop overnight. Mesothelioma can take decades to show up in a person who was exposed to asbestos. Mesothelioma and other cancers associated with exposure to toxic dust can be fatal.
As such, the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) was created through the Zadroga Act to help victims of 9/11 file claims to receive compensation, even if they do not experience injuries or illnesses right away. When victims sustain injuries or illnesses because of the 9/11 attacks, they may not be able to work or complete daily tasks as they once remembered. Compensation can help these victims not only with medical bills but potentially with lost wages.
Since 2001, the government has compensated 9/11 victims through the VCF. The VCF paid $7 billion in claims to compensate victims between 2001 and 2004. Some claims were processed by family members of the more than 2,800 deceased victims, and other claims were processed by more than 2,600 injured victims. The VCF was extended in 2011 and again in 2015 for an additional 5 years. Given the significant number of claims filed, the amount of compensation available through the VCF is dwindling. The current VCF is set to expire in December of 2020, leaving many victims wondering if they will receive the compensation they need to address their latent illnesses, some of which are permanent and fatal.
Proponents of 9/11 victims, such as comedian and activist John Stewart, have lobbied Congress to act swiftly to ensure 9/11 victims will not be left out if they file claims to receive compensation. Congress answered the calls of not only John Stewart but many first responders who are still suffering the long-term consequences of the 9/11 attacks by passing legislation to extend the VCF to the year 2090. By extending the VCF, no victim will be left out when filing a claim to receive compensation. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the bill with flying colors. Congress expects the President to sign the bill into law.
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