The Zadroga Act, providing funding for the WTC Health Program and the VCF

Michael Bartlett

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on October 13th, 2023

The Zadroga Act, named after James Zadroga, an NYPD detective who died from respiratory failure associated with Ground Zero exposure, established and provided funding for two separate but related benefit programs - the WTC Health Program and the VCF. It was signed by President Obama in 2011.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon, World Trade Center, and airline crash sites were a tragedy for the whole nation. However, for some, the terrorist attacks permanently affected their health. For office workers, students, residents, people commuting through Lower Manhattan and first responders, firefighters, police officers, and people responsible for debris removal, the nightmare that happened over two decades ago never ended. If you developed a health problem or are a family member of a person who died of an illness related to the terrorist attacks, you might be eligible for compensation and healthcare under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

As a law whose purpose is to provide health monitoring and financial compensation to the first responders, volunteers, and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Zadroga Act funds and establishes the WTC Health Program, which offers medical treatment to people who experienced or may experience health complications related to the attacks. Senator Bob Menendez and Representative Carolyn Maloney co-sponsored the bill, which did not pass in 2006. Still, a different version of the bill passed in 2010 and was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2011. The Zadroga Act was reauthorized in 2015, with coverage extended to 2090.

James Zadroga was a member of the NYPD who passed away from a respiratory illness on January 5, 2006, as a result of his involvement at Ground Zero. The man was the first person whom health officials declared died due to toxic exposure at the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Zadroga was healthy until he developed shortness of breath and a cough several weeks after his presence at Ground Zero. He was the first person to receive a settlement from the VCF in 2004. The VCF and WTC Health Program fall under the Zadroga Act. In December 2015, Congress authorized roughly $4.5 billion in compensation over the next five years.

It is worth noting that the new version of the Zadroga Act that was signed into law in 2015 included the following significant changes from the earlier versions:

  • removes the $10,000 minimum award amount
  • places a cap of $90,000 for non-economic loss for conditions unrelated to cancer
  • places a cap of $250,000 for non-economic loss for cancer
  • places a cap on annual gross income of $200,000 for every year of loss
  • requires VCF administrators to prioritize the claims of 9/11 victims who had the most serious health conditions

In July 2019, the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, also known as the VCF Permanent Authorization Act or the Zadroga Reauthorization Act was signed into law. This reauthorization made funds available until October 1, 2090. Survivors and responders have two years to register with the VCF from when their illness has been certified by the WTC Health Program. This law removed the cap on non-economic damages in specific circumstances and extended the deadline to file a claim with the VCF from December 18, 2020, to October 1, 2090.

Anyone is potentially eligible for compensation under the Zadroga Act if they can prove they were present at the NYC Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002. If you were injured or developed a health condition as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we encourage you to contact our experienced attorneys, as they can efficiently assist you in filing your VCF claim. Because we understand how overwhelming struggling with a serious injury or illness can be, we will strive to make the legal process as simple as possible for you.

File your 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund claim with the assistance of our diligent attorneys

With over 30 years of experience in pursuing financial compensation for toxic exposure victims, our skilled attorneys are ready to help you find out whether you are eligible to file a claim with the Victim Compensation Fund. Our legal team will carefully and thoroughly assess your case to determine your eligibility. The only documents we will request to evaluate your case are evidence of your presence in the Exposure Zone and your medical records with your diagnosis. If we establish that you are entitled to financial compensation, we will strive to obtain the most favorable outcome for your case. Our law firm works on a contingency fee basis, so you will not have to pay us anything unless we recover money for you.