If you lost a loved one or suffered injuries as a result of the attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001, you may already know that you can be eligible to receive compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). Although nearly 20 years have now passed since the attacks on that date, families continue to suffer the consequences, both in New York and elsewhere. The VCF originated shortly after the attacks in 2001 and operated until 2004. In 2011, President Obama signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which reactivated the VCF. Since then, laws have extended or reauthorized the VCF so that victims of the September 11th attacks and their families can continue to obtain the compensation they need.
Given that almost two decades have passed since the creation of the VCF, it is an important time to revisit the VCF and how it applies to individuals and families in 2020 and beyond. The following are five things to know about the VCF in 2020.
- VCF Permanent Reauthorization Act Extends Claim Filing Deadline to 2090
On 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 into law. Most significantly, the Act significantly extends the filing deadline for victims who would be eligible for claims under the VCF. While the previous authorization extended funding only until 2021, the recent authorization requires that the VCF remain funded until 2092, with claimants able to make claims until October 1, 2090.
- Reauthorization Eradicates Reductions Announced By Special Master Back in February 2019
Back in February 2019, the Special Master announced that the amount of money left in the VCF was insufficient to cover currently pending and future claims, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. More specifically, the Special Master indicated that the $7.375 billion that had been allotted to the VCF would not be sufficient and, accordingly, reduced claim amounts. The reauthorization requires the VCF to issue payments to “any claimants who were impacted by the reductions,” according to a news release from the VCF.
- Claims Process Will Remain Similar to Previous Claims Processes Under the VCF
Generally speaking, the process for filing a claim will remain the same. Claimants must submit specific forms and a variety of required documents. As before, claims will generally be reviewed in the order in which they were submitted. However, in certain cases, it may be possible to accelerate review of your claim. If a claimant suffers from a terminal illness or a significant financial hardship, that claimant can request that the claim be expedited.
- Victims Can Pursue Claims with the VCF and the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism (USVSST) Fund
In 2020, you will be able to pursue claims with the VCF and the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism (USVSST) Fund. The USVSST Fund Clarification Act, which Congress passed on November 21, 2019, allows September 11th victims, their dependents, and their widows to pursue a claim with the USVSST Fund even if they have received compensation or applied for it with the VCF.
- There Are Still Caps on Certain Types of Damages Awarded through the VCF
When President Obama reauthorized the VCF in 2015 (he signed into law a bill that reauthorized the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which also reauthorized the VCF), the law made some changes to the way that the VCF calculates a claimant’s loss. In addition, the law capped certain types of damages. First, non-economic damages are capped. Non-economic damages are those that are subjective in nature, and typically include losses like a victim’s pain and suffering, or the loss of enjoyment of life as a result of the injury or disease. The law capped non-economic damages for losses that resulted from cancer at $250,000, and it capped non-economic damages that did not result from cancer at $90,000.
The recent law signed by Trump does not eradicate these caps on non-economic damages, but it allows the Special Master to go beyond the caps under “special circumstances.” Special circumstances might include those in which the cap is insufficient to compensate the specific victim for his or her losses.
Contact a 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Lawyer in New York City
If you need assistance with a VCF claim, one of our experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at our Firm can get started on your case today. We are dedicated to helping those who worked or lived in NYC near the 9/11 area, passed through the area on a regular basis and/or worked on equipment coming from the 9/11 area or anyone else who was affected by 9/11. We know how important it is to get the compensation you need. Contact The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. for more information about our services.