If you are a 9/11 responder or survivor who has been diagnosed with an illness or cancer linked to the toxic dust cloud, you may be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. It’s important to understand the VCF’s claim filing process, as well as the terminology associated with it. Significantly, if you intend to submit a claim for compensation, it’s crucial to understand when one would be considered premature or insufficient.
When Are Claims Considered Premature?
VCF claims must be submitted with basic supporting documentation in order for the preliminary review process to begin or for the claim to move on to the substantive review stage. The VCF waits 14 days before a claim will proceed through its automated document check process — and at least 60 days before it enters preliminary review. This allows a claimant time to upload the required documents the VCF needs to process their claim.
VCF claims are considered premature if they should not have been submitted because:
- The minimal documentation required to begin preliminary review has not been completed and submitted to the VCF
- The claimant has not yet been certified by the WTC Health Program for a 9/11-related physical condition
- A personal representative does not have the required documentation to validate their authority
By default, premature claims become inactive claims. This means that they cannot move forward into substantive review — rather, they are moved to “inactive” status during the automated document check or preliminary review stage. A missing information letter will be sent to a claimant if their claim does not include the necessary documentation.
What Are Insufficient Claims?
In contrast with premature claims, insufficient claims are those for which the minimally required documents were submitted — either when the claim was filed or in response to a missing information letter. However, in these instances, the VCF has determined that the documents in support of a claimant’s eligibility are insufficient to render a decision on the claim.
Insufficient claims are placed on hold, and the VCF will send a missing information letter to obtain the necessary documents from the claimant. Notably, the insufficient claims category primarily contains claims that were submitted with proof of presence documents that fail to meet the VCF’s criteria.
Types of Missing Information
A claimant will be issued a missing information letter if a VCF claim is considered premature or insufficient. A missing information letter might be sent if a claim submission is missing a claim form signature page, WTC Health Program certification, proof of appointment as a victim’s personal representative or guardian, proof of presence, or private physician packet (if applicable).
It’s vital to be aware that timelines must be adhered to if a missing information letter is sent. The VCF will render a decision on the claim based on the information it already has if a response is not received to a missing information letter within 30 days. Failure to respond to a missing information letter in a timely manner can result in delay or denial of your claim.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 VCF Attorney
If you are a 9/11 responder or survivor who developed an illness linked to the toxic dust cloud, you may be eligible to receive compensation from the VCF. However, the claim filing procedures are often confusing and overwhelming. It is best to have a knowledgeable VCF attorney by your side who can help you navigate the process of obtaining the monetary award you deserve.
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.