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How Long Does the VCF Claims Process Take?

September, 2020

If you are out of work or otherwise suffering financially from a 9/11-related health issue, your most pressing question likely is: How long will my VCF claim take? This is not an unreasonable question, given the federal government’s reputation for working neither quickly nor efficiently. However, VCF claims generally move through the system comparatively quickly compared to several other benefits programs, although certain issues may come up that could delay an applicant’s claim. Read on to find out more about how long the VCF decision process takes or contact our VCF lawyers for more detailed information. 

The VCF Aims to Issue Decisions Within One Year

The VCF reviews claims on a “first-in, first-out” basis, meaning that decisions are rendered based on the date the compensation claim was submitted, prioritizing older claims over newer claims. While the VCF states that it is moving toward issuing determinations within one year of claim submission, it has not yet reached this goal. For example, as of the date of publication, claims submitted in January 2019 are currently receiving award decisions, resulting in roughly a 20-month timeline. 

Missing Information and Non-Compliance Can Slow Down the Process

Once you submit your claim to the VCF, it will undergo two phases of review. In the first phase (the “preliminary review”), it will confirm that all of your “minimally required” documents have been submitted. If you are missing any of the required documents the VCF will send you a missing information letter, to which you have 60 days to respond. In the second phase of review (the “substantive eligibility review”), the VCF will review your claim to determine whether you meet the eligibility criteria set out by the Zadroga Act and in the VCF’s regulations. If it needs any further information, it will send you a missing information letter, to which you have 30 days to respond. Submitting your claim with missing information or failing to respond to a VCF request can result in delays or the denial of your claim. 

Is It Possible to Expedite the Process? 

It is possible to expedite the VCF claim review process in cases of terminal diagnoses and “significant financial hardship,” The VCF defines significant financial hardship as an imminent or pending foreclosure or eviction proceeding, utility cutoff, or similar circumstances. To request an expedited review, you must contact the VCF and submit the appropriate documentation to support your request. The VCF will then notify you within 48 hours if your request for expedited review has been approved or denied. If approved, the VCF can process your claim, issue your award, and process your payment in as little as 3-4 weeks. Please note, however, that expedited review is available only for claims that are otherwise complete and accompanied by all required documents. 

Contact Our VCF Lawyers for More Information about the VCF Claims Timeline 

The best way to ensure that your VCF claim moves through the review process as quickly as possible is to seek the assistance of experienced counsel who can help you submit a complete, review-ready claim. To get started, please contact the VCF lawyers at Pitta & Baione by using our online contact form or by calling us at 212-658-1766.