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The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund: A Timeline

September, 2020

While the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is now permanently funded and no longer at risk of depletion, that was not always the case. In fact, the VCF’s very existence has at times been under threat. From 2001, when the fund was first authorized, to now, the VCF has taken a long, twisting route to permanence. What follows below is a timeline of some of the VCF’s major milestones. For more information about the VCF, please contact a 9/11 attorney

September 22, 2001: The Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (ATSSA) is enacted into law, establishing the original VCF, which compensated persons injured or the representatives of persons killed in the attacks. Claims were limited to individuals who were present at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, or aircraft crash site in Shanksville, PA, at the time of or in the immediate aftermath of the aircraft crashes at those sites on September 11, 2001, as well as passengers and crew of any aircraft that crashed due to terrorist activity. 

November 26, 2001: Kenneth R. Feinberg is appointed as the first Special Master of the VCF

December 2003: The original VCF closes to new claims, having made awards totaling just over $7 billion to over 5,500 claimants. 

January 2, 2011: Rising concerns about injuries and illnesses incurred by 9/11 first responders and others who were exposed to Ground Zero toxins lead President Obama to sign the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, reauthorizing funding for the VCF. The reopened VCF extended eligibility to persons who suffered physical injuries or illnesses as a result of rescue, recovery, or debris removal work at or near the 9/11 aircraft crash sites, as well as individuals who lived, worked, or attended school in 9/11 dust exposure zones. The reauthorized VCF was authorized to operate through October 2016. 

May 18, 2011: Sheila L. Birnbaum is appointed as the second Special Master

December 18, 2015: President Obama reauthorizes the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 for an additional five years. 

July 21, 2016: Rupa Bhattacharyya is appointed as the third (and current) Special Master

February 15, 2019: Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya determines that funding would be insufficient to pay all pending and projected claims, and announces reductions in awards. 

June 11, 2019: Jon Stewart, along with several 9/11 first responders, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in support of the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act, which would permanently reauthorize the VCF. 

July 29, 2019: President Trump signs the Never Forget the Heroes Act into law. The act extends the VCF’s claim filing deadline from December 18, 2020, to October 1, 2090, and appropriates any such funds as are necessary to pay all approved claims. 

Contact a 9/11 Attorney to Start Your Claim

If you were a 9/11 first-responder or lived, worked, or studied in Lower Manhattan on 9/11, you may be entitled to VCF benefits. For more information, please contact a 9/11 attorney at Pitta & Baione by using our online contact form or by calling us at 844-982-2667.