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Why Was My VCF Claim Denied?


The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was formed to ensure that eligible responders, survivors, and families who lost loved ones in 9/11 get the compensation they deserve. According to VCF statistics, there have been 31,922 approved eligibility determinations, 5,669 procedural denials, and 1,198 substantive denials as of June 30, 2020. 

Even if you have suffered from an eligible condition, there are several procedural or substantive reasons your claim could be denied.

Failure to Prove an Eligible 9/11 VCF Condition

To receive an award for VCF compensation, the survivor, responder or resident must have been diagnosed with at least one 9/11-related eligible condition. There are numerous physical conditions that the VCF recognizes, including all forms of Cancer, Airway Disorders like asthma or COPD, Aerodigestive Disorders like chronic sinusitis, and Acute Traumatic Injuries. However, to receive a VCF payout, the condition must be first certified by the WTC Health Program — the VCF will not review your claim or issue award compensation unless you have received a WTC Health Program certification letter.

While the VCF recognizes all forms of Cancer as eligible conditions, there is a minimum latency period assigned to each specific type of Cancer that begins from the date you were in the Exposure Zone. The most common minimum latency period is four years, but it is earlier for some forms of Cancer. For example, the minimum latency period for Prostate Cancer is four years. So if the first date an individual was present in the NYC Exposure Zone after 9/11 was September 14, 2001, the earliest diagnosis date to be eligible for VCF compensation based upon that individual’s Prostate Cancer would be September 14, 2005.  It’s crucial to be aware of the latency periods and how they could affect your claim. The minimum cancer latency period must be met for the VCF to award compensation.

Failure to Establish Presence

Another requirement for VCF compensation is establishing that you were present in the NYC Exposure Zone at any time between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002. The same date range applies for individuals who were present at either the Pentagon crash site or Shanksville Pennsylvania.

Although there is no minimum amount of time that an individual must have spent in the Exposure Zone, they must still provide sufficient presence documentation to the VCF. There are certain documents that the VCF will accept as evidence of presence, but they may request additional documentation if more details are required. The VCF specifies that times, dates, and an exact location are necessary to process a claim — it will not consider “Ground Zero” as a valid location, specific addresses, cross streets or landmarks must be provided. 

The VCF will not review presence information until both your claim form and other required documents are submitted. Failure to provide the specific details concerning the dates, times, and locations can result in a procedural denial. In addition, if the VCF requests additional documentation from you, and you fail to provide it within the specified time frame, your claim may also be denied.   

Missed Registration Deadlines

The VCF will consider all claims that meet the registration deadline. The applicable registration deadline varies based upon the facts of each claim, the earliest of which is July 29, 2021. Registering does not obligate you to submit a claim, but it does preserve your future right to do so. Although the VCF may consider late registration on an individual basis, it’s best to register immediately to avoid a claim denial. Once registered, eligible individuals have until October 1, 2090 to submit their claim forms and supporting documents.  

Active 9/11 Lawsuit Pending

By statute, an individual who wishes to file a VCF compensation claim cannot have an active or pending 9/11 lawsuit. Those who choose to pursue a 9/11 lawsuit waive their rights to submit a VCF claim.  

Missing Information

Numerous forms must be properly completed to submit a VCF claim, and the applicable forms vary depending on facts and circumstances of your claim. The VCF requires that claims must be submitted in their entirety. However, there may be situations in which additional information or documentation is requested. Failure to provide the complete information and supporting documentation necessary to process your claim within the specified time frame can result in a claim denial.  

Contact a New York City 9/11 VCF Attorney

Navigating the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund regulations can be confusing, frustrating, and complicated. If you’re a survivor or responder with an eligible condition, or the personal representative of a deceased individual who was diagnosed with an eligible condition while living, it is best to have an attorney on your side who can fight for your rights and ensure that you receive the maximum victim compensation 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. For a free consultation, contact us today.


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