Ground Zero

What is the NYC Exposure Zone for a VCF Claim and How Do I Prove I Was There?

If you were a first responder or survivor of the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack who has been diagnosed with cancer or one of the non-cancerous eligible condition, you may be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). In addition to showing that you have at least one of the VCF eligible conditions, you must also prove that you were in the NYC Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002.

The Geographical Location of the Exposure Zone

To be eligible for VCF compensation, a responder or survivor must prove that they were in the NYC Exposure Zone, which includes “along the routes of debris removal”, at some point during the period beginning September 11, 2001 and ending May 30, 2002. The New York City Exposure Zone consists of the area in Manhattan south of Canal Street, as well as any location outside of that area that was related to routes of debris removal, including barges, the Fresh Kills landfill, and bus depots. 

It should be noted that the World Trade Center Health Program has different criteria. To qualify for medical monitoring and treatment for a 9/11-related condition, the WTC Health Program defines the “NYC Disaster Area” as any area in Manhattan south of Houston Street, and any area in Brooklyn that is within 1.5 miles from Ground Zero.

The Time Frames for Exposure

If you were present in the NYC Exposure Zone, you need to show that you were present in the “immediate aftermath” of the attacks. This time period is defined by the Zadroga Act as beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on May 30, 2002. There are no requirements for the minimum amount of time an individual needed to be in the NYC Exposure Zone for purposes of VCF eligibility. 

Required Documentation to Prove Presence in the Exposure Zone

In order to prove that one was present in the NYC Exposure Zone, VCF requires documentation of presence. Examples of the most common types of documents used to demonstrate presence within the 9/11 site include: 

  • Affidavits from eyewitnesses
  • Letter or verification from an employer
  • Personnel roster
  • Union records
  • NYPD memo books
  • Lease, rental agreement, utility bills
  • School records
  • Documentation as to the tasks you performed
  • Medical records

The VCF may consider other documents on a case-by-case basis. The VCF may also ask you to submit additional documentation if more details concerning times or dates are required to process your claim.    

Certain employers have arrangements with the VCF for providing proof of presence information. For example, the FDNY, NYC Department of Sanitation, FBI, District Council 37, Lucent Technologies, Verizon, New York State National Guard, New York State Police, American Red Cross, BlueCross BlueShield, and Communications Workers of America all may work directly with the VCF to provide the documentation necessary to prove presence. 

Using Affidavits to Prove Presence in the Exposure Zone 

In cases where records are no longer available, the VCF allows you to submit a sworn affidavit from someone who can attest to your presence in the exposure zone. The person submitting the affidavit must have personal knowledge that the responder or survivor was present — generally, they must have personally observed them at the location, or ordered them to be there and received verification that the individual reported there. A minimum of two forms of presence documentation must be submitted.  

An affidavit must provide specific details about the affiant’s relationship with the survivor or responder. It must also contain their personal knowledge concerning what the responder or survivor was doing at the site and why they were there. Affidavits must be as precise as possible concerning times, locations, dates, tasks performed, etc. The VCF specifies that it will not accept “Ground Zero” as a location to establish presence — addresses, cross streets, intersections, or other details indicating location should be used.  

The person swearing to the affidavit must also include any information concerning the employment relationship with the responder or survivor. Affidavits must contain the affiant’s contact information, and be either notarized or include the necessary language to comply with 28 U.S.C. §1746

Contact a New York City 9/11 VCF Attorney

If you have been diagnosed with any form of cancer after 9/11, or any other non-cancerous eligible condition as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). Navigating the VCF regulations 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 medical treatment and maximum monetary compensation to which you are entitled. 

The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has 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.