If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor who suffered an illness linked to the attack’s resulting toxic dust cloud, you may have suffered both physically and financially. A monetary award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund can be crucial to offset the economic and non-economic damages you experienced. However, if you’ve filed a claim, you might wonder how long it takes to receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
How Long Does It Take the VCF to Process a Claim?
Generally, the VCF reviews claims on a “first in, first out” order, based on the date the claim form was submitted. In other words, the VCF prioritizes claims that have been waiting longer before it reviews newer claims. However, it’s important to understand that claims are prioritized for review only after all information has been submitted to the VCF.
Every claim is reviewed individually and must go through two stages: preliminary review and substantive review. Some claims may take longer than others, depending upon the amount of documentation that must be reviewed. For instance, deceased claims involving a review of substantial information to validate the Personal Representative’s legal authority can be more complicated and may take longer.
Specifically, the length of time the VCF can take to process a claim can vary depending on several factors, including the following:
- The complexity of the claim
- Whether the claim submission is complete
- The accuracy of the information provided to the VCF
- The timeliness of your responses to the VCF’s requests for additional information
- Whether the VCF is waiting for information from third parties
- How many claims are ahead of yours
The VCF aims to issue determinations within one year of submission of the claim form or amendment — as long as all the information needed to process the claim has been provided. While the VCF has announced it continues to work to shorten the timeframe to decide a claim, as of February 2024, claims that were submitted prior to September 2022 are currently receiving decisions. Claims submitted before March 2023 are in the preliminary review stage.
Can You Obtain Your VCF Compensation Faster?
The best way to ensure you receive your VCF award as quickly as possible is to ensure your claim submission package is complete and accurate and you respond in a timely manner to any missing information letters. However, in limited circumstances, the VCF may expedite the processing of a claim. If you have a terminal illness or are experiencing significant financial hardship, you may be eligible to have the review of your claim accelerated.
Notably, you must submit appropriate documentation to support the reason your claim should be expedited. The VCF considers “significant financial hardship” as an imminent or pending foreclosure, eviction proceeding, utility service cancellation, or other similar circumstances. If you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you should provide the necessary medical documentation along with your claim submission form. The VCF will review the request to expedite your claim and notify you whether it has been granted or denied within 48 hours.
If your VCF claim has been approved for expediting, it will typically process the claim, issue the monetary award, and process the payment within three to four weeks. In cases involving expedited claims, the payment is issued once the award letter is sent, but you still have the right to appeal within 30 days.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 VCF Attorney
Understanding the procedures for filing a VCF claim can be confusing. A knowledgeable VCF attorney can help you navigate the process and obtain the monetary award you deserve for your 9/11-related health condition. 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.