If you’ve submitted a claim to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), it’s important to be aware that you may be able to amend your claim to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. The VCF allows responders and survivors to file an amendment under several different circumstances — including adding a new 9/11-related condition to a claim after an award was already issued.
Amending Your Claim to Add a New or Worsening Condition
Many responders and survivors who filed claims with the VCF for eligible conditions were later diagnosed with additional 9/11-related illnesses or injuries. If the WTC Health Program certified you with an additional eligible condition, you can file an amendment to your original claim. A subsequently diagnosed eligible condition can also be considered for compensation by the VCF.
You can also amend your claim if you had previously been certified by the WTC Health Program for at least one eligible condition and were later diagnosed by your private physician with any form of cancer, or another eligible condition. However, filing an amendment may not result in additional compensation if your non-economic loss award was at the statutory cap —except when a cancer is added to a claim in which the original eligible condition was a non-cancer. However, further non-economic loss may be awarded for a non-cancer if the Special Master determined the condition to be “presumptively severe and debilitating.”
If you already received your award, you can amend your claim if your eligible condition worsens substantially. The VCF will review your amended claim to determine whether you may be awarded compensation for additional loss.
Administrative Reasons to Amend a VCF Claim
If the VCF requested additional information concerning your claim and you failed to provide it, your claim may have been denied or deemed inactive. If you later obtain the missing information, the VCF allows you to submit an amended claim.
The VCF may also permit you to amend your claim if:
- The parent/guardian or personal representative on a claim has changed
- New information arises that would have affected the calculated amount of the award
- $5,000 or more additional out-of-pocket medical expenses were incurred since the award was issued
- You believe the VCF did not consider documents you provided in response to a “Missing information Letter” in determining your award amount
If you’d like to request consideration to go through the WTC Health Program Disability Evaluation, or already did and need to submit your report for the VCF to review, this would be done by filing an amendment to your claim.
Amending a Deceased Claim
Generally, amendments are not permitted in deceased claims once the VCF has made a compensation determination, except in extremely limited circumstances or if not permitting the amendment would result in “substantial injustice.” However, a personal representative may amend a claim to provide additional information at any time before the status of the claim reaches the final stages of substantive review.
The Difference Between an Amendment and an Appeal
The VCF has distinct processes and procedures for when a claim should be amended, versus when it should be appealed. It’s important to understand the difference — an appeal challenges the VCF’s determination of a claim, while an amendment allows you to submit new information. While an appeal could potentially overturn the VCF’s original award determination, an amendment does not affect the amount of the award that was issued.
There are some instances in which a claim may have been denied where filing an amendment would be the appropriate course of action, rather than an appeal. If there is additional information that would have changed the outcome of the VCF’s determination, the claimant should file an amendment. For example, suppose a responder or survivor submitted a claim for a condition that was not deemed eligible. In this case, if the WTC Health Program certified the condition as eligible after the claim was denied, the original claim filed could be amended to include the condition.
Contact a New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you are a responder or survivor who has suffered a 9/11-related health condition, you may be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Navigating the VCF regulations and amending a claim can be confusing, frustrating, and complicated. It is best to have an attorney on your side who can fight for your rights and ensure that you receive the maximum victim compensation payout to which you are entitled.
The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have represented claimants and their families in 9/11 VCF claims for over a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.