UNDATED — Just 11 days after the World Trade Center collapsed, Congress established the Victim Compensation Fund.
The fund is designed not only to provide compensation for the people who were impacted by the 9/11 attacks but also to prevent thousands of lawsuits against airlines, security companies and the federal government. The fund is headed up by a special master, who was allowed to basically create the rules.
According to vcf.gov, Kenneth Feinberg was named special master on November 26, 2001. He had three years to get 80% of the victims' families to agree to file a single compensation claim. On Nov. 1, 2004, 97% of families who lost someone filed a joint claim and got money. The fund gave out more than $7 billion.
Originally, the fund did not provide compensation to first responders who were injured or had any sort of personal trauma from the attacks and cleanup efforts. 10 years later in 2011, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Fund was opened, which increased funding to $7.3 billion dollars, and also updated the policies and procedures so it would be easier for first responders to get compensation as well as victims. In 2019, the act was permanently reauthorized until the year 2090.
You can find the explanation of how to file for compensation here.