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Mission Accomplished!

9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Permanently Extended & Fully Funded

It took nearly 18 years of concerted lobbying efforts, but sick 9/11 first responders and survivors will no longer have to worry about whether funds will be available for them and their families. The entire 9/11 community can now rest assured that free health care and compensation are available for any WTC-linked illness that they develop over their lifetime.

On Monday July 29, 2019 President Trump signed the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act” (VCF) in the White House Rose Garden. Six members of the Barasch McGarry law firm who had made countless lobbying trips to D.C. were invited to attend, along with trustees of the Fire, Police, EMS, and Building Trades unions. And, of course, select first responders and survivors from the Feal Good Foundation were present.

Our group of 9/11 advocates and union leaders began the final lobbying chapter for the permanent extension of the VCF on February 25, 2019, when the bill was introduced in both houses of Congress. This followed the shocking announcement by the VCF Special Master that an explosion of cancer and death claims had necessitated immediate drastic cuts in all pending and future claims.

That same day Mike Barasch & Ret. FDNY Deputy Chief Rich Alles presented Congresswoman Maloney with a specially made FDNY Fire Bunker Coat that she promised to wear every day until the law was passed. She was true to her vow and the coat became a remarkable symbol of her leadership for the 9/11 Community! She wore it on the floor of the House of Representatives every day, and to all public appearances, a constant reminder that first responders are suffering, and in need of help.

Obviously, Jon Stewart’s role in the passage of the bill cannot be overstated. His passionate testimony before Congress was critical to shaming politicians who refused to support the bill.

And John Feal was a constant and relentless presence in the halls of Congress. It really “took a village” to get this bill passed, but the hard fight made the success all the more satisfying.

VCF Made Permanent and Fully Funded

The new law extends and fully funds the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund which had been running out of money, and would have expired on December 18, 2020. This extension guarantees that the VCF, like the WTC Health Program, will be federally funded until the year 2090, effectively making both programs permanent for the 9/11 community.

This means that the 9/11 community, including active and retired first responders, residents, workers, and students who are sick or who become sick in the future, are entitled to compensation and health care. The family of any member who dies of a 9/11 illness will also receive compensation.

For those members who weren’t able to buy life insurance after a diagnosis of pulmonary illness or cancer, this law is now in place for your family’s well-being long after you pass.

What does “full funding” mean?

Since February’s announcement by the Special Master, firefighters have had their awards reduced 50%-100%. Over 1,700 claimants, including some 450 of our firm’s clients, have had their awards slashed. Under the new law, all of them will receive the balance of their award (i.e., the amount that was cut). And, all new awards will be paid in full.

VCF awards now range from $20,000 – $90,000 for minor respiratory illnesses and non-melanoma basal cell
and squamous cell skin cancers. The VCF awards up to $250,000 for pain and suffering for more serious cancers, including melanoma, prostate cancer, and breast cancer (the three most common of the 68 cancers that have been linked thus far). Additional monetary awards are available for lost income for members who receive an FDNY WTC disability pension and for those members who were active on 9/11/01,
retire, and subsequently reclassify their pension to a WTC disability within a 25 year period after retiring.

Our newsletter has covered pension reclassification in the past and we will be doing another updated article soon for our retired FDNY clients and newsletter recipients.

As always, we are here to answer any questions that you may have regarding the WTC Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund.

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