How to Prove and Document Exposure when Filing 9/11-Related Illness Claims

To be eligible for 9/11 compensation, you must provide evidence that you were present at or near the site at the time of the terrorist attacks or at some point during the period beginning on September 11, 2001 through May 30, 2002. This can be a challenging process to navigate if you don’t have documentation readily available. 

If you or a loved one was present at one of the 9/11 crash sites, or lived, worked or went to school in the NYC Exposure Zone on 9/11 or the year after, it is important to take action right away to prove and document your presence and exposure on 9/11 and the aftermath. These “proof of presence” documents can be used in support of a claim filed now or to have in the future. 

In the 20+ years since 9/11, many records have become unavailable due to the records being lost, corporate/employer retention policies, and witnesses moving, dying, or otherwise becoming not available to provide a witness presence statement affidavit. In gathering these proof of presence records and any witness presence statements, it is vital that this proof must be in the correct and complete form with all the necessary detail since it is unlikely that proof of presence records be available in the coming years. 

The “proof of presence” records are required for a successful claim, now or in the future, with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The VCF was created in 2002 (and then amended several times since then)  to provide financial compensation to 9/11 survivors (the downtown residents, workers, students and others) and first responders who were injured, developed an illness such as any cancer, or lost a loved one as a result of 9/11. Medical monitoring and treatment is available through the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP). Both of these programs were created by Congress as part of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to help those affected by the 9/11 attacks. 

Why Do You Need Proof of Presence to File a VCF Claim?

Proof of presence is an essential part of getting an illness certified by the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and establishing eligibility for VCF claims. The VCF is managed by the Department of Justice and is meant to provide financial assistance to victims, first responders, and recovery workers who were affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The VCF requires claimants to provide proof that they were present at the scene of the terrorist act or the surrounding affected areas in order to show that an illness is related to the attacks. By providing documentary evidence such as photographs, medical records, or witness statements that verify the claimant’s physical presence, the VCF can determine who is eligible to receive financial resources under the program.

Proving your presence is vital to ensuring that you receive the compensation you need to cover medical bills, lost wages, and funeral expenses. The VCF will only accept claims from individuals who can provide proof of their presence at or near the sites in the required timeframe. 

Proof of Presence Documentation

When filing a VCF claim, proof of presence is provided in the form of various different documents. There are several options available, including official personnel rosters, pay stubs showing dates or work and/or location of the site, site credentials documenting work at a particular site, responder dispatch records, worker’s injury reports, photographs, medical records, rental agreements, rent or mortgage receipts, official governmental documents establishing residence, court orders, school or day care records, or any other documents that prove presence. If you can provide a witness statement from someone who can attest to your presence at the time of the attacks, this can also be used to demonstrate and document your presence. 

Can Workers' Compensation and WTCHP Documents Be Used as Proof of Presence?

Yes, workers’ compensation and WTCHP documents can be used to demonstrate and document your presence in the NYC Exposure Zones. If you filed a claim with the Worker’s Compensation Board of the State of New York (WCG) or the World Trade Center Volunteer Fund as result of an illness or injury that resulted from your paid or volunteer work during or after 9/11, the VCF will accept these documents as proof of presence. 

Similarly, if you have an illness that is certified by the WTCHP and have provided WTCHP proof of presence documents, you can use these documents for the VCF. The VCF can directly obtain your information from the WTCHP. While WTCHP and WCG documents are useful to support your VCF claim, you will want to provide additional documentation to strengthen your claim and ensure your claim is accepted.

VCF Denials for Insufficient Proof of Presence

The VCF frequently denies claims where the claimant cannot provide sufficient proof of presence in the NYC Exposure Zones or other crash sites during the specified time. In such cases, the claimant may need to provide additional documents or evidence that can demonstrate and document their presence and exposure. If the claimant is unable to provide such evidence, the claim will most likely be denied and no compensation awarded.

Why File Your VCF Claim with an Experienced 9/11 Lawyer

It is important to file your VCF claim with an experienced 9/11 lawyer who understands the complexities of filing a VCF claim. A 9/11 lawyer can help you gather the necessary documents and evidence to prove your presence in the 9/11 exposure zones, and can help you ensure that your claim is properly documented and submitted. Furthermore, a knowledgeable 9/11 lawyer can provide legal guidance and advice on how to best present your case to the VCF. Contact the experienced 9/11 attorneys at Hansen & Rosasco today to find out how we can help you maximize your chances of being approved for compensation.