What is the Zadroga Act?
The Zadroga Act is a law enacted by the U.S. Congress to allow people who were exposed to the WTC toxins and became sick to receive health care and compensation. The VCF, a federal agency, evaluates claims and calculates each claimant’s loss.
The Zadroga Act, enacted in 2011, originally provided the VCF was to close on October 3, 2016.
Congress then voted in 2015 to reauthorize the Zadroga Act (“the Reauthorization”) to extend the VCF’s final deadline for five years. Now the VCF is open until December 18, 2020, the new deadline.
Reauthorization of the Zadroga Act has brought many important changes:
The VCF’s total funding was greatly increased. The original Zadroga Act made $2.775 billion available. Reauthorization made has made an additional $4.6 billion in funding available.
The VCF placed some limitations on certain kinds of awards. These include limiting the amount of non-economic loss that can be awarded, eliminating claims for future out-of-pocket medical expenses, and capping the computation of economic loss by limiting the annual income level.
1. Why was the Zadroga Act enacted?
Congress enacted the Zadroga Act because it saw many, many people were exposed to the WTC toxins and became sick. So many people became severely injured from inhaling the WTC dust and debris. They developed many diseases, from asthma, sinusitis, interstitial lung disease, COPD, to cancers including skin cancer, melanoma, lung cancer, too many to list. Many people died from their WTC injuries, particularly from cancer and lung disease. Many people became disabled, unable to work because their WTC injuries made it impossible to perform daily work activities.
Congress understood, from hearing extensive testimony from very sick people and the surviving family members of those who died, that people needed health care coverage, medical monitoring, and compensation for pain and suffering and loss of earnings due to disability.
The comedian and social activist John Stewart is credited for raising nationwide awareness of the existence of so many who are sick and have died from exposure to WTC toxins. John Stewart was able to tell the stories of first responders and other people who deserve compensation for their suffering.
2. Who is eligible under the Zadroga Act?
The VCF will find eligible those claimants who have physical WTC injuries that have been shown to be connected to exposure to WTC toxins.
Claimants who have been found eligible include office workers, volunteers, residents, first responders, construction workers, electricians, communications union workers, business owners, cleaners, waiters, teachers, students, firefighters, police officers, detectives, court employees, New York City agency employees, New York State employees, federal employees, government agency workers, financial district workers, executives, students and professors at Pace University, Stuyvesant High School, New York Law School, Borough of Manhattan Community College, and 6 more schools in the area.
3. Is the Zadroga Act the same as the WTC Health Program?
This is an important distinction. The Zadroga Act created two federal agencies: The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and the WTC Health Program (WTCHP).
The WTCHP is not the VCF
The VCF is not WTCHP.
There is some overlap between the two agencies. Both are federal agencies and exist to help those affected by WTC toxic pollution. However, the differences are huge and very important for you to be aware of.
Today, great public confusion exists as to whether the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is the same as the WTC Health Program.
Make no mistake: they are completely different federal programs.
They have completely different staff who work in completely different offices.
WTC Health Program is part of NIOSH and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The VCF is part of the United States Department of Justice.
No, the two bureaucracies do not “talk to each other.” Only if you file a claim with the VCF will the VCF inquire with the WTCHP about your injuries.
The two programs have different criteria, different requirements for who can get in.
The two programs have separate goals: the WTC Health Program is about epidemiology, public health, medical diagnoses, medical treatment.
The VCF’s goal is to provide cash compensation to those who were in the NYC Exposure Zone and sick with WTC related physical conditions.
If you have a WTC injury, you should participate in both the VCF and the WTC Health Program.
You will get a different identification number from each program: a Member Number and a Registration Number.
Each program has different requirements.
Am I enrolled in the WTCHP?
There is one way to find out: call the WTCHP at 888 982 4748 and ask.
Note that there is a similar sounding City of New York program called WTC Health Registry.
Enrolling in the WTC Health Registry does NOT mean you are enrolled in WTC Health Program. The City program and the WTC Health Program do not talk to each other!