A common question that arises concerning claims for compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is: how long does it take to process a VCF claim? Generally, the VCF considers claims in “first in, first out” order and prioritizes pending claims before it reviews new submissions. Many variables can affect the length of time it takes to process a claim, including whether the VCF requests additional information from you. However, in specific circumstances, you can request that the VCF expedite a claim and be issued your award in as little as three to four weeks.
VCF Claim Processing Timeline
The VCF recently updated its website information to advise responders and survivors that it is working to shorten the timeframe of deciding claims once they’ve been submitted. The VCF’s goal is to issue a determination on a claim or amendment within one year from the date of submission.
Currently, responders and survivors who submitted claims between January and April 2019 are receiving their awards. According to the VCF, the current review status for claims submitted is as follows:
- April through July 2019 — substantive review
- August through September 2019 — will be in substantive review soon
- October through November 2019 — preliminary review
Each claim is considered individually. Since the VCF reviews all claim-specific information and calculates loss on every claim separately, the review process can take some time.
The VCF may take additional time to process a claim if it is particularly complex, such as those involving deceased claims for survivors or responders who died due to their eligible 9/11-related health condition. In these cases, there is often a considerable amount of information that needs to be reviewed, including documentation concerning pensions, life insurance, employer benefits, and dependent information. The VCF also needs to verify whether the Personal Representative has the legal authority to pursue the claim on behalf of the deceased individual.
Acceleration of VCF Claims
In specific situations, the VCF may expedite a claim for compensation for your 9/11-related health condition. The circumstances under which the VCF will accelerate a claim include a claimant’s terminal illness diagnosis or a “significant financial hardship.”
You must submit documentation to the VCF supporting the reason you are seeking to expedite your claim in order for it to be considered for acceleration. For example, medical records or a physician’s letter should be provided with your request if you are facing a terminal illness. Court documents pertaining to a foreclosure or eviction may be considered in a case involving financial hardship.
The VCF will usually notify the claimant within 48 hours if their request has been approved. If the VCF determines your claim is eligible to be accelerated, it will generally complete the claims review process and issue an award in a month or less — payment is issued with the award letter. Survivors and responders who have had their claims accelerated do not give up the right to appeal the VCF’s decision.
Amendments to Accelerated Claims
If your claim was previously expedited and you are filing an amendment, it’s not necessary to request another expedited review for the amendment in cases involving a terminal illness. However, if the VCF accelerated your claim due to significant financial hardship, you are required to submit another request for acceleration as well as provide additional documentation with the amendment in support of the request.
Contact a New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you’re a responder or survivor of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with an eligible 9/11-related health condition, you may be entitled to compensation from the VCF. Submitting a VCF claim or requesting acceleration for a claim can be a confusing process. It’s best to have the guidance of a skilled 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney who is knowledgeable about the regulations involved and can help ensure that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled from the VCF.
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.