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What Is the VCF’s Preliminary Review Process? 

Preliminary Review

When a responder or survivor files a claim with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, it must go through a specific review process to determine eligibility and compensation. The two stages of review include preliminary review and substantive review. But before a claim can reach the substantive review stage, certain criteria must be met. During the VCF’s preliminary review, the VCF will confirm that your claim was registered on time, your health condition has been certified by the WTC Health Program, and you satisfy the presence requirement. Upon determining your eligibility, the VCF will move your claim forward.   

What Does the VCF Look for During Its Preliminary Review?

When you submit a claim to the VCF, it will go through an Automated Document Check process before proceeding to the preliminary review stage. This automated process checks to ensure you have submitted a completed signature page and authorization to release medical records. Your claim can then move on to the preliminary review.

During the preliminary review process, the VCF will evaluate your claim to make sure you’ve submitted the “minimally required” documents. In addition to a claim form, the following documents are needed before your claim can advance:

  • Claim form signature page
  • Authorization for the release of medical information
  • Confirmation from the WTC Health Program that you have at least one certified 9/11-related health condition
  • Proof of presence documentation
  • VCF ACH payment information form or VCF Client authorization form 

If you are the personal representative of a deceased responder or survivor, you must also submit Letters of Administration and the victim’s death certificate. 

Once the VCF has determined that you have provided the information necessary to process your claim, it will be assigned to a claim reviewer and be ready to go through the substantive review process. VCF claims are handled on a “first-in, first-out” basis. The VCF strives to issue determinations within one year of submission and continues to work to shorten the time frame. 

What Happens If Your Claim Doesn’t Pass Preliminary Review? 

In some cases, a responder or survivor might not include all the information the VCF needs to process a claim. This doesn’t always mean that your claim will be denied outright. If the VCF finds that any of the necessary documents are missing or insufficient during the preliminary review stage, you will be sent a “missing information letter.” If this happens, your claim will be placed in “inactive” status. Once the required documents have been received, and the VCF determines that they are sufficient, the claim will be reactivated and move forward for review. 

Importantly, if the documents needed for review are not submitted within 60 days from the date listed on the missing information letter, the claim might be denied. In such cases, you can amend the claim once you have obtained the paperwork, and the VCF will reactivate your claim to review it. To avoid any delay in processing your claim, it’s essential to submit all documentation when you first file your claim package.   

Contact an Experienced 9/11 VCF Attorney

If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor who was diagnosed with an eligible health condition, you may be entitled to receive a monetary award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, filing a claim for compensation with the VCF can be confusing and frustrating — it’s vital to have a 9/11 VCF attorney by your side to guide you through the process.

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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