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How are Economic Loss and Non-Economic Loss Determined for VCF Awards?

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was created to ensure that survivors and responders of the 9/11 terrorist attacks receive the compensation they deserve for their physical injuries or other 9/11-related eligible conditions and cancers. The monetary compensation awarded by the VCF considers both the economic loss and non-economic loss suffered by those who were present at one of the attack sites, in the NYC Exposure Zone, or along the debris route during the time frame specified by the Zadroga Act.

How Compensation is Calculated

In calculating compensation, the VCF balances fairness to individuals who are filing claims as well as the entire population of claimants. Priority goes to those who have the most severe conditions. The VCF conducts a three-level analysis for compensation claims:

  1. Whether there was a demonstrable loss
  2. Is it reasonable to determine that the loss is related to an eligible condition
  3. What makes sense in the specific circumstances of the claimant and their claim

The Special Master carefully considers every claimant’s specific situation — and many variables can go into calculating loss and determining compensation.

What is Non-Economic Loss in a VCF Claim?

The VCF also refers to non-economic loss as a “pain and suffering” award. To determine the amount, the VCF will consider how the injury affects your daily life, what kind of condition you have, and the severity. Non-economic loss is calculated separately from an economic loss claim.

Under the Zadroga Act, non-economic loss includes compensation for emotional pain, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, physical suffering, and other non-monetary or tangible losses. The VCF will also consider disfigurement, loss of consortium, loss of companionship, and any other non-pecuniary damages.  

While the amount of loss awarded does not depend on the number of conditions, it considers the severity of each condition and the impact it has on the responder or survivor’s daily life. The VCF determines the severity per the certification of the WTC Health Program. However, additional supporting documents that can demonstrate how the condition affects your life can also be submitted. Generally, the VCF awards non-economic loss amounts of $90,000 maximum for non-cancer conditions and $250,000 for any type of cancer — the amounts are adjusted for more than one cancer or condition.

What is a VCF Economic Loss Claim?

Determining economic loss is complex and involves several complicated calculations. The VCF will review information about your disability, including your earnings history, Social Security Administration information, NYPD or FDNY paperwork if applicable, Workers’ Compensation, and pension documentation. Burial and funeral costs are also compensated as economic loss in deceased claims.

Past & Future Lost Wages and Benefits

If your eligible condition prevents you from working, the VCF will take into account past and future lost wages and loss of benefits when determining economic loss. Some employers, such as the FDNY and NYPD, send the VCF a specific spreadsheet with all the information used to determine economic loss — including pension, type of retirement, date of retirement, earnings, and appointment date.

A personal representative filing a deceased claim can also make a claim for a victim’s lost wages incurred before their death. In these cases, the VCF will also consider loss of future earnings.  

Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenses

The VCF awards compensation for unreimbursed out of pocket expenses over $5,000 for medication, doctor’s visits, surgeries, and medical procedures related to your eligible condition. The VCF does not compensate for any anticipated out of pocket medical costs or travel and lodging expenses in connection with medical care.

Replacement Services Loss

If you used to do household tasks that you no longer can do as a result of your 9/11-related condition, you may be entitled to replacement services loss. A detailed description of the types of services and the reason you can’t perform the tasks must be submitted to the VCF. Medical records and a Social Security Administration Consent form should also be submitted with the claim. Replacement services loss may be awarded in deceased claims, as well.

Calculating the Final VCF Award

Although non-economic loss and economic loss are calculated separately, it uses a basic formula to arrive at the total final amount: economic loss + non-economic loss, minus collateral offsets. 

Collateral offsets can include any payments you received from your pension fund, the Social Security Administration, Worker’s Compensation, or any settlement related to a lawsuit related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Contact a New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney

If you are a responder or survivor who has suffered an eligible 9/11-related health condition or cancer, you may be entitled to receive compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Navigating the VCF can be confusing, frustrating, and complicated. A 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney can guide you through the VCF claims process and fight for your rights to receive the maximum victim compensation payout to which you are entitled. 

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have represented claimants and their families in 9/11 VCF claims for over a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.

John P. Dearie

John P. Dearie is a graduate of Regis High School, The University of Notre Dame, and St. John’s University School of Law. After working at a corporate law firm in New York City for two years following law school graduation, he joined The Dearie Law Firm in 2011.

John represents injured New Yorkers in third-party negligence litigations, as well as first responders, workers, volunteers and residents in claims to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.