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Navigating the Appeals Process for a Denied VCF Claim


If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor who was diagnosed with an illness linked to the toxic dust cloud, you may be entitled to receive a monetary award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, there are various reasons your claim might be denied. If you have received an eligibility denial — or if you are eligible but disagree with the amount of the award amount — you may be able to appeal the decision.    

Review Your Denial Letter

The first thing you should do if your claim has been denied is review the denial letter carefully. It will outline the specific information you need to know about appealing the VCF’s decision. 

Importantly, you can only appeal if your eligibility denial letter comes with an Appeal Request Form.  

The VCF Has the Discretion to Decide Whether Your Appeal Request is Valid

If the VCF had sent you a request for additional information during the review process, and you did not respond, the VCF has the discretion to decide whether your appeal request is valid. In such cases, the VCF will issue a letter that specifies the next steps you should take.                                

Be Aware That You Must Appeal Within 30 Days

If your claim has been denied and you intend to appeal, you only have 30 days to file the form after the VCF has notified you of the decision on your claim. Failure to do so can result in waiving your right to appeal.                                                                                   

You Must Include Certain Information with Your Appeal Package      

Your Appeal Package must include certain information and specific documents. All materials must be included in a single package. The VCF will typically not consider information submitted after the Appeal Package has been uploaded or mailed to the VCF, except in very limited circumstances.  

The information that must be provided to the VCF in the Appeals Package includes the following:

  • Pre-Hearing Questionnaire
  • Explanation of Appeal
  • Every piece of relevant documentation in support of your appeal
  • A listing of the documents and the specific aspect of your appeal to which it applies

The purpose of the Explanation of Appeal is to give you the opportunity to fully explain the arguments you will be raising at your hearing — and the reasons you believe the claim was decided incorrectly. 

The VCF Will Assign a Hearing Date and Time

The VCF will assign a hearing date and time to explain your reasons for the appeal — the scheduled hearing cannot be changed except in rare circumstances. You will have the option to attend your hearing in person or remotely using the Zoom platform. The hearings are non-adversarial and give you the chance to present testimony, witnesses, and any information you believe will support your appeal. 

The determination regarding your appeal is not made at the hearing. The VCF staff will make a recommendation to the Special Master, who will review the relevant information. You will then be sent a letter that details the VCF’s decision on your appeal.  

Contact an Experienced 9/11 VCF Attorney

Appealing a denied VCF claim can be complex, so it’s essential to have a skillful VCF attorney by your side who can help you navigate the process to ensure you obtain the compensation to which you’re 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 more than a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.


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