9/11 VCF: 2019 Year in Review
September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (9/11 VCF) 2019 Year in Review
For the 9/11 community, 2019 was a tumultuous year full of ups and downs. On February 15, VCF Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya announced a funding crisis triggered by skyrocketing cancer rates, which would require devastating 50 to 70% cuts in compensation for 9/11 victims. For nearly six months, we witnessed victims suffer from pain, anguish, anger, and worst of all – injustice. In some cases, the actual cuts were 90 or 100%. Some passed away believing that their families would receive a small portion of what they were owed – if anything at all.
The Campaign to Make the 9/11 VCF Permanent
The funding crisis announcement triggered a nationwide campaign led by a coalition of 9/11 responders and survivors, labor leaders, community advocates, lawyers and lobbyists who joined forces to pass legislation that would make the 9/11 VCF permanent once and for all. The result – on July 29, 2019, the President signed the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act into law after a 97-2 victory in the Senate and a 402-12 vote in the House.
The Never Forget the Heroes Act
The Never Forget the Heroes Act extends the 9/11 VCF through 2090 and provides for an initial funding allocation of $10+ billion dollars, with a requirement that the fund be replenished as needed to pay all claims. The legislation officially ended the funding crisis and ensures that it will not happen again.
New Grace Period for Previously Untimely Claims
The VCF Special Master ended the year with another major announcement in 2019: a new registration deadline for victims previously certified by the World Trade Center Health Program, and for families of victims who have since passed: July 29, 2021. This essentially opens up a two-year moratorium for anyone who ever missed a VCF registration deadline, and confirms that all currently registered claims are timely.
“This change addresses concerns about claimants who missed prior deadlines because they did not know that the VCF existed or was open to them, did not know that their condition (or the death of their loved one) was related to 9/11 exposure, or did not realize that they were eligible to file a VCF claim or that the VCF would be in place beyond the previous 2020 end date.” – VCF Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya
A Message From Pitta & Baione LLP
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is available to 9/11 victims and families of lost loved ones who have been diagnosed with a 9/11-related health condition. Compensation is tax-free.