In Compensation, September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, Updates

The 9/11 VCF Deadline is Rapidly Approaching

As of today, there are 1000 days remaining to fully file your claim with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (9/11 VCF). The 9/11 VCF is due to expire on December 18, 2020. This means that the claim and all supporting documents, must be submitted by that date. One thousand may sound like plenty of time to get everything together, but this cannot be further from the truth. In addition to the overall submission deadline, there are also critical registration deadlines that may be passing as you read this.

The 9/11 VCF process can be complex and time consuming

9/11 VCF attorneys, claim reviewers, and administrators must painstakingly review hundreds of thousands of pages of documents received from tens of thousands of 9/11 victims and their families. These documents include claim forms, affidavits, attestations, exhibits, medical reports, as well as financial records, tax returns, union benefit information, and employment records that all must be in perfect order. Any missing information or even a missing date on a single page could delay a claim months or even result in a reduced award or denial. That is not including the six months to a year it could take for the reviewers to get to your claim to see if something is missing or incorrect.

Some required documents can take months to acquire – especially since 9/11 occurred nearly 17 years ago. Submitting a claim close to the 12/18/2020 deadline may prevent you from resolving issues necessary to properly submit your claim and receive the full award you are entitled to. The more time you have to perfectly put together your claim, the better.

Claims are generally reviewed in order they are received

VCF claims are reviewed in “first in, first out” order based on the date the completed Claim Form was submitted. This means the VCF prioritizes claims that have been waiting longer before beginning to review newer submissions. As the clock winds down, you will want to be towards the top of the pile to ensure your claim is reviewed prior to VCF closure. This will give you more time to resolve any unanticipated issues that may arise.

Certification by the WTCHP is required before the VCF determines eligibility

Although you can file your VCF claim before your 9/11-related physical conditions are certified by the WTCHP, the VCF is unable to issue an eligibility decision until certification of at least one physical 9/11-related condition has occurred. The WTCHP, being separate from the VCF with its own application and review process, has different eligibility requirements and it can take six months to a year to be certified. For this reason, starting the WTCHP process too close to the December 2020 VCF deadline may prevent you from properly filing your VCF claim. There are exceptions to this requirement but they are very limited.

The total available award money is limited

The VCF recently announced that over $3.3 billion dollars in awards have been issued. Although the program has allotted for nearly $7 billion in total awards, there are thousands of claims already filed that have yet to receive an award. This does not include the hundreds of new registrations piling into the VCF on a daily basis as more and more people fall ill due to the disastrous toxic effects of 9/11 dust. New diagnoses of 9/11-related diseases are increasing. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 35,000 new 9/11 cancer diagnoses alone.

In most cases, the 9/11 cancers take many years to develop and are now appearing at an alarming rate among 9/11 responders and survivors causing the suffering and death of once healthy Americans. We expect registrations to the VCF to increase with time as more people sadly develop these horrible illnesses. As this occurs, the total available award money will rapidly dwindle.

There is no guarantee the VCF will be reauthorized

As we know from the past, Congress has had great difficulty coming to agreement on refunding the Zadroga Act – the law that reopened the VCF to provide justice and financial relief for those still suffering from the latent toxic effects of 9/11. Although we plan to fully support the efforts of community leaders, sympathetic politicians, and unions for another Zadroga reauthorization to prevent 2020 closure, it is nearly impossible to predict what will happen this time around. Additionally, as we have seen in the past, even if the VCF is again reauthorized the program can be changed to limit the award amounts available to each claimant.

You should contact an attorney immediately if you think you may be eligible

Not sure if your condition is related to 9/11? Unclear about the relevant exposure time period? Ignore workplace rumors and hearsay about eligibility. Instead, consult an attorney. We have spoken to countless victims of 9/11 toxins exposure who missed or delayed an opportunity for compensation because they relied on workplace rumors and things they heard on the news. Some have unnecessarily cost themselves years in time or millions in compensation. These next 1000 days will fly by FAST- think about how fast the last 1000 days have flown by. You could avoid these pitfalls by hiring a competent VCF attorney.  It is a truism that you do not need an attorney to file a 9/11 VCF claim. This is as true for the 9/11 VCF as it is for a murder trial. It is your constitutional right to self-representation. However, as the old proverb goes “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Contact us today to get real answers.

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