If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor, receiving an award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund can be crucial for covering your economic and non-economic losses. However, there are certain reasons a claim may be denied. It’s important to understand that if the VCF rejects your claim, there are steps you may be able to take to ensure you obtain the compensation to which you’re entitled.
File an Appeal or Amendment with the VCF
If you receive a denial letter from the VCF, you should first check to see whether an Appeal Request Form is included. This determines whether you have the right to appeal the VCF’s decision on your claim. If you are eligible to file an appeal, you must provide notice of your intention to do so within 30 days after the VCF has notified you of its determination.
Significantly, a VCF appeal should not be confused with an amendment — these are two separate processes. An appeal is the process that challenges the VCF’s determination on your claim, while an amendment seeks a new determination based on updated information. It’s vital to ensure you use the correct procedure based on your case’s specific facts and circumstances. If you file an appeal solely to seek consideration of an amendment on an unrelated issue, it will be deemed invalid, resulting in its cancellation and the waiver of your right to appeal.
Be Sure to Have All Documentation Necessary to Support Your Claim
One of the most common reasons that your VCF claim has been denied is failure to submit the documentation required. Importantly, the VCF must evaluate your health condition certification, proof of presence, and various forms to render a determination in your claim. While it’s best to include all necessary documentation with your claim package to avoid delay or denial of your claim, you may be able to submit any omitted information to support your eligibility in your Appeal Package.
Appear at a VCF Appeal Hearing
Once you have submitted your Appeal Package, the VCF will decide whether your request for an appeal is valid. You will then be scheduled for an appeal hearing, which will be conducted virtually. Specifically, eligibility appeals take place by video conference, and compensation appeals are heard by phone.
The VCF appeals hearing process is informal and conducted by a hearing officer. They typically last no more than one hour, during which time you will have the opportunity to present testimony, question witnesses, and raise the evidence included in your Appeal Package. Upon conclusion of the hearing, the VCF will notify you regarding its decision by mail.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
Appealing a VCF claim that has been denied can be confusing and overwhelming. A knowledgeable 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney can assess the denial you received and evaluate whether you have grounds to appeal. But it’s essential that you don’t delay in taking action — you only have a limited amount of time to file an appeal from the date the VCF issues your denial.
The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have successfully represented claimants and their families in VCF claims for over a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.