If you’re a responder or survivor who submitted a claim to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), you might be wondering when a decision will be made. While the VCF reviews claims on a first-in, first-out order based on when it was received, each claim is determined individually. This means that some of the more complex claims may take longer to complete. Currently, VCF claims submitted prior to July 2021 are receiving award decisions.
What Is the Current Status of Claims in Review?
The VCF prioritizes claims that have been waiting longer before it begins its review of any newer submissions. Specifically, it aims to shorten the timeframe and issue a determination within one year of submission of the claim or amendment.
According to the VCF’s website, the current status of claims is as follows:
- Claims submitted before July 2021 — Award decisions are currently being issued.
- Claims submitted before August 2021 — These claims are currently in substantive review.
- Claims submitted between September 2021 and February 2022 — These claims are awaiting substantive review.
- Claims submitted before March 2022 — These claims are in preliminary review.
Although the above status reflects most claims, it’s important to understand that certain claims may take longer to complete. For instance, claims filed for victims who passed away due to a 9/11-related condition require the VCF to review a substantial amount of information to calculate an award. The documentation in these claims can be extensive and include information related to life insurance, pensions, Social Security Survivors Benefits, employer benefits, and more.
The VCF will contact a responder or survivor for any additional information needed to process a claim once it begins the review process.
The VCF’s Claim Review Process
It’s important to have a basic understanding of the VCF’s claim review process if you’ve submitted a claim. Importantly, two stages are involved in the VCF’s claims review process. These include the Eligibility Review and the Compensation Review.
Once you’ve submitted your claim to the VCF, the first stage is the preliminary review process. During this stage, the VCF will determine whether it has the “minimally required” documentation needed to process your claim — including your claim form, any applicable exhibits, presence documentation, and medical record authorization. The VCF will request additional information from you if necessary, which you will have 60 days to submit before your claim is denied.
If the VCF determines your claim submission package is complete, it will proceed to the substantive eligibility review stage. At this stage, the VCF will evaluate whether you meet the eligibility requirements. Specifically, you must have submitted your registration, have an eligible 9/11-related physical condition certified by the WTC Health Program, and prove you were present in the NYC Exposure Zone. You must also not have any active 9/11 lawsuit pending. A claimant has 30 days to provide additional documentation during this stage if it is requested by the VCF to avoid their claim being denied.
After the VCF renders an eligibility decision, claims eligible for compensation will proceed to the VCF compensation review stage. The VCF will calculate the total amount of the award during this process, which can involve contacting a third party to obtain information regarding earnings history, pension, and disability. While compensation for non-economic loss (i.e. a “pain and suffering” award) can be fairly straightforward, calculating economic loss is often complex.
The VCF provides claimants with a breakdown of their awards and offers the opportunity to appeal a decision within 30 days if they believe the award was not calculated correctly.
Contact a New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Attorney
If you’re a responder or survivor who has been diagnosed with a 9/11-related health condition, you may be entitled to compensation. Navigating the VCF regulations can be confusing, overwhelming, and complicated. It is best to have a VCF attorney on your side who can help ensure that you receive the maximum payout to which you are 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 over a decade. Contact us for a consultation.