What is the 9-11 VCF and What Does it Do?

Pretty much anyone who was over the age of five that day, remember to some extent the events of 9-11. Even all of these years later we still feel the effects of it and we still remember that great tragedy. For those who lost loved ones and family members in the terrorist attack and even for those who survived and helped with rescue and cleanup efforts but got sick in the process, these individuals continue to suffer the effects of that attack even to this day. In light of the worst terrorist attack ever on American Soil, action was taken to try and help in some small way compensate those who were injured or adversely affected by the events of 9-11. To this end, the Zadroga Bill was written and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was set up.


Understanding the VCF

According to an article by CNN, here are a few fast facts about the VCF:

  • From 2001 to 2003, claims related to the attack were collected and processed
  • In 2011, the fund was re-opened for those emergency workers, first responders, and cleanup crew members who were impacted as a result of their aid.
  • The WTC Health Registry works with local and federal agencies to monitor and track the health and wellness of those who have claims entered into the VCF records.
  • More than 7,000 claims from 75 countries were entered and more than 5,500 of those cases were awarded financial compensation- all of which totaled more than $7 billion.
  • The fund received 2,963 death claims. This accounted for more than 98% of eligible families. In almost 90% of the claims the family was awarded financial compensation that ranged from $2 million to $7 million each.
  • Approximately 4,500 personal injury claims and awarded were given in around half of these cases and ranged from $500.00 to $8.6 million.


Who Is Kenneth Feinberg?

Attorney and social advocate Kenneth Feinberg was appointed by Attorney General John Ashcroft to be Special Master of the fund that would award the victims their compensations. He worked for 33 months in connection with the initial proceedings and hearings to hammer out the details. He established the guidelines governing the management and dispersal of the fund and oversaw all aspects of the program for that time period. Feinberg himself presided in over half of the 1,600 hearings that were given during his time working with the funding campaign. At the end of the process $7 billion was awarded to 97% of the families; the average payout was $1.8 million. One of the biggest issues many of the families and many in the general public as well had with the WTC VCF was the clause that was entered and that all recipients had to adhere to. This clause stated that if they were given an award in the VCF then they could never seek to sue the airlines or anyone else associated with the tragedy – they basically took the money and had to drop any other charges or attempts to collect further compensation. Many saw this as unfair but it was also one of the few ways that at least some compensation could be given to the families. The fear that Feinberg and others had was that if the normal process was followed the court cases were so numerous that they would drag on for years and the airlines and others held responsible could potentially be out of business by then- this would have meant the victims got nothing. The goal was to give the victims at least a guarantee of some compensation, but once that was awarded they could not exercise their rights to seek further compensation.


How Life Changed For Us All After 9-11

Here are 10 ways federal laws, regulations and policies changed as a direct result of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001:

  • Creation of the Department of Homeland Security
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • USA Patriot Act and anti-money-laundering rules
  • The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
  • Stepped-up anti-terrorism prosecutions under material support laws
  • Drones, drones and more drones
  • Electronic surveillance
  • Fusion Centers for communication monitoring
  • Grenade launchers and global police increasing in use