The Never Forget the Heroes Act — One Year Later
One year ago, on July 29, 2019, President Trump signed the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Act into law. Among other things, the Act permanently funded the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which had been set to stop accepting claims in December of this year; removed funding caps; fully compensated prior claimants for awards reduced due to insufficient funding; and removed the cap on non-economic damages, in certain circumstances. Without this important legislation, 9/11 first responders, survivors, and their families likely would have been shut out from much-needed government benefits.
For more information about the VCF, or help with filing a claim, please contact a 9/11 attorney at our firm today.
The Act Restored Full Award Payments to 1,700 Individuals in 2019
In early 2019, the Special Master of the VCF determined that the funding allocated to the program under its existing legislation was insufficient to fully compensate all eligible claimants. As a result, the VCF announced that awards issued on claims filed before February 1, 2019, would be reduced by 50%, and those filed after February 2, 2019, would be reduced by 75%. Five months later, the Act fully funded the program and directed the VCF to restore full funding to individuals whose claims had been reduced. By September 2019, the VCF had completed funding restoration, fully compensating almost 1,700 individuals.
The VCF Has Awarded Over $6.8 Billion in Compensation
According to the latest program statistics, the program has received over 54,000 claims, inclusive of both personal injury claims and death claims. It has awarded over $6.8 billion in compensation to 9/11 first responders, survivors, and their families, with $663 million having been awarded in 2020 so far. The program provides benefits for loss of earnings attributable to a 9/11-related injury or illness, pain and suffering, and certain out-of-pocket medical expenses.
The Program Approves 80% of Eligibility Determinations
In total, the program has evaluated eligibility in 39,668 cases, issuing approvals in 31,922 cases and denials in 6,867 cases, indicating that it approves just over 80% of all eligibility determinations. Only 17% were denied, and the vast majority of those denials (roughly 83%) were for procedural rather than substantive reasons. Once a claimant is determined to be eligible for compensation, the claim moves on to the compensation review phase of the VCF claim review process, where the program determines the amount of compensation the claimant will receive.
Contact a 9/11 Attorney to Begin a VCF Claim
With the 9/11 VCF now permanently funded, the program will be able to provide more assistance to 9/11 responders, survivors, and their families than ever before. But the best way to ensure success on a VCF claim is to enlist the assistance of an experienced 9/11 attorney. To get started, please contact a 9/11 attorney at Pitta & Baione by using our online form or calling us at (844) WTC-COMP.