Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC)
Claims Under The Federal Employees Compensation Act For The September 11th Terrorist Attacks
The Department of Labor recognizes and honors the courage and sacrifices of the first responders and other workers who responded to the September 11th terrorist attacks. For many who were exposed to toxic substances while working at Ground Zero and other 9/11 sites, the latent effects of exposure have been related to a variety of current health complications.
All federal employees who have a medical condition or disability causally related to the performance of their duties (including arising out of the 9/11 attacks) are entitled to workers' compensation coverage pursuant to the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA). See http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/index.htm.
DOL acknowledges, however, these claims can be complicated and establishing a causal relationship between the work performed pursuant to the 9/11 attacks and a current medical condition or disability may be complex.
Under Secretary Acosta's leadership, a designated team of claims examiners has been established in the Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) to assist with any newly filed 9/11 FECA claims. They will explain the evidence needed, and answer any questions of claimants about the process and legal requirements.
The key evidence needed for a 9/11 FECA CLAIM as required by the law are the following:
- Exposure – You will need to provide evidence of the duration and length of your occupational exposure. This may include information such as a description of job duties, which federal agency you worked for, and the location of the work. OWCP will assist you by asking your employing agency to provide information about occupational exposure including relevant agency records.
- Medical – You will need to provide medical evidence establishing that the specific medical condition or disability claimed is aggravated, accelerated, precipitated, or directly caused by your 9/11 work related activities. Establishing such a relationship requires a qualified physician's opinion, based on a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the diagnosed condition is causally related to your employment conditions. This opinion must be based on a complete factual and medical background.
Filing a FECA Claim:
You can file a FECA claim through your employing agency. Further assistance can also be obtained by contacting our 9/11 FECA claims team at (816) 268-3045.
Additional Federal Benefits:
WTC HEALTH PROGRAM Federal employees may also be eligible for benefits through the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program (a program created under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 or "Zadroga Act") which is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). See https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/
SEPTEMBER 11TH VICTIM COMPENSATION FUND Injured federal employees or survivors of those who died as a result of the September 11th attacks or debris removal efforts may also be eligible for compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) (a program created in 2001 and reopened under the Zadroga Act), which is administered by the Department of Justice. Information about VCF policies and procedures regarding eligibility criteria, the calculation of awards, and the claims process is available at https://www.vcf.gov.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How do I initiate my 9/11 FECA claim?
A: You can initiate a claim through your employing agency. Your claim will automatically be routed to our 9/11 FECA Claims Team.
Q: What if I already have an existing 9/11 FECA claim?
A: The 9/11 FECA Claims Team was formed in December of 2017 under Secretary Acosta's leadership to handle new initial claims for benefits and ensure consistent support for claimants arising from the 9/11 attacks. Claims made prior to December 2017 will remain with the existing assigned claims examiner but the 9/11 Team will be available as a resource for the examiners and claimants.
Q: If my claim has already been accepted by the WTC Health Program, and I'm currently receiving treatment for specific health conditions that HHS has determined to be 9/11-related, does that guarantee acceptance of my FECA claim?
A: No, the fact that you are receiving treatment through the WTC Health Program does not guarantee acceptance of your FECA claim as the standards of proof and benefits vary between the programs as required by these two separate and distinct laws.
Q: Can't you just get the medical evidence in my WTC Health Program records from HHS?
A: No, due to Federal privacy laws, OWCP cannot require HHS to disclose your medical record to us. If you wish OWCP to consider your WTC Health Program medical information, you should supply your FECA claims examiner with a complete copy of that evidence. However, because the legal standard of proof differs between the programs, additional medical evidence may be needed for your FECA claim. OWCP can help explain what evidence is needed and how to provide the evidence to OWCP.
Q: What is the effect of applying for benefits under the VCF and FECA?
A: You should be aware that under the Zadroga Act, the VCF must offset from your award any disability benefits, including FECA benefits, that you are receiving, or are entitled to receive as a result of your eligible physical health conditions You should report any FECA benefits awarded in accordance with the VCF's requirements.
April 12, 2018