Tragically, many families in the 9/11 community have lost loved ones to cancers, illnesses, and diseases linked to the toxic dust cloud that covered lower Manhattan after the terrorist attacks. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund ensures that not only are eligible responders and survivors compensated for their illnesses during their lifetime — it also issues monetary compensation for burial and memorial expenses to families of deceased victims.
If you lost a loved one to a 9/11-related health condition, it’s essential to be aware of the reimbursement to which you may be entitled, as well as the VCF’s rules and procedures for submitting a claim.
Who Can Submit a VCF Claim for Burial and Memorial Expenses?
Funeral and burial costs can often be significant. Importantly, the VCF will issue compensation for documented burial and memorial expenses for victims who passed away due to an eligible 9/11-related illness or injury and suffered a wrongful death. These claims must be submitted to the VCF by the personal representative of the victim, along with the initial deceased claim submission.
Critically, only the personal representative of a 9/11 victim has the legal authority to submit a deceased claim with the VCF and request reimbursement for burial or memorial expenses. Even if you’re the spouse or the victim’s next of kin, you’ll still need to obtain Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration to file a VCF deceased claim. The personal representative will be responsible for distributing the reimbursement for burial expenses to the individual who paid them.
In cases where it is not possible to obtain an appointment from the Surrogate’s Court as the personal representative of a victim’s estate, a request may be made to the VCF Special Master. A notarized statement must be submitted to the VCF detailing the relationship with the victim and the reason the appointment couldn’t be obtained from the court. If there is a will, the name of the executor must be provided, as well as the names and locations of any surviving family members of the victim.
What Documentation is Needed to Prove Burial and Memorial Expenses?
The VCF calculates monetary losses in connection with burial and memorial claims based on the specific documentation provided. However, the VCF will not reimburse costs that have already been covered by a collateral source, such as life insurance. If any part of the burial or funeral expenses were paid by another entity, the personal representative must provide documentation of the coverage.
For example, death benefits and burial expenses may have been paid in whole or part by the following sources:
- A union to which the victim belonged
- A professional or social organization
- Workers’ Compensation
- A mutual benefit society
- State agencies or entities
Receipts and proof of payment are acceptable forms of documentation to establish burial and memorial expenses. If the victim’s spouse or children applied for death benefits or reimbursement of burial expenses from the New York Workers’ Compensation Board, the claim number must be provided with the VCF submission. Additionally, if any claims were made with other state agencies, the U.S. Department of Labor, or in another country, a copy of the decision made on the claim must be submitted to the VCF — along with documentation of the benefits awarded.
Contact a 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you lost a loved one to a 9/11-related illness or injury, it’s crucial to ensure they are properly memorialized and remembered. However, there are specific procedures and regulations involved with filing a VCF claim for funeral and burial expense reimbursement that can often be confusing to understand. A dedicated 9/11 VCF attorney can help to ensure that you file the correct paperwork and secure the monetary recovery 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 more than a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.