In addition to having an eligible physical condition certified by the World Trade Center Health Program, if you were south of Canal Street between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002 and therefore entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, you must also prove that you were there. With your claim submission, the VCF requires that you show that you were present in either the NYC Exposure Zone or along the routes of debris removal like the Fresh Kills Landfill, bus depots, or barges. One way you can prove you were at any of these locations within the necessary time frame is by providing a Presence Statement.
When Do I Need to Prepare a Presence Statement?
There are several documents a responder or survivor can submit to the VCF to prove your presence in the NYC Exposure Zone or debris removal routes between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002, which is the “immediate aftermath” time period specified by the Zadroga Act. The documents may either be submitted directly by you or your employer and can include employment verification, medical records, union records, or other verifying documents.
Certain employers work directly with the VCF to provide proof of presence documentation, such as the NYPD, FDNY, FBI, NYC Department of Sanitation, and many others. The VCF will also accept leases, utility bills, or school records from survivors as sufficient proof of presence.
In some cases, the above-mentioned records may no longer exist, or the VCF may request additional information to verify your presence. This is why the VCF allows survivors and responders to submit Presence Statements to prove that they were there.
What is the Difference Between a Witness Presence Statement and a Victim Presence Statement?
There are two types of Presence Statements that the VCF will accept in support of presence: a Witness Presence Statement and a Victim Presence Statement. Both are sworn statements attesting to a victim or responder’s presence and activities in the NYC Exposure Zone. A Victim Presence Statement is optional and completed by the individual who is submitting the claim to the VCF. A Witness Presence Statement is provided by a person with first-hand knowledge of the victim’s presence.
What Information is Included in a Victim Presence Statement?
A Victim Presence Statement is meant to provide additional details that are not included in your claim form or other documents supporting your claim. Although it may be helpful to the VCF in processing your claim, it’s not a required document.
The VCF Victim Presence Statement form asks you to provide information concerning your specific location, including addresses, cross street locations or landmarks — “Ground Zero” is not considered a precise location. The statement should provide the VCF with the dates or months you were at the location, who saw you there, and what you were doing there, i.e., whether your office was located there, you went to school there, or participated in the rescue. You must also state what you remember about being present there, in detail.
What Information is Included in a Witness Presence Statement?
Witness Presence Statements provide information about a victim’s presence in the NYC Exposure Zone from a person with first-hand knowledge that the victim was there. It must include information concerning:
- How the witness knows the victim
- How long the witness knows the victim
- Where was the victim present between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002?
- Whether the witness actually saw the victim there
- Detailed description of the victim’s activity there
- The specific location of the victim and dates they were there
- What the witness was doing at the location at the time they saw the victim there
The witness can also provide any additional details or documentation attesting to the victim’s presence. Additionally, if the witness had first-hand knowledge the victim was present but did not see them at the location, this information should be specified in the statement.
Contact a New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you were south of Canal Street between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002, you may be entitled to compensation. Navigating the VCF claims process can be confusing, frustrating, and complicated. It is best to have an attorney on your side who can fight for your rights and ensure that you 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.