VCF FAQs: Updates for September 2019
September 2019 has been a busy month for the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund, and not only because it marks the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On September 6, VCF Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya issued a message sharing the good news that VCF claimants whose original awards had been reduced due to lack of funding are now being re-compensated for their full amounts as a result of the passage of the Never Forget the Heroes Act in July. In other not-so-good news, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar informed Congress on September 5 that the World Trade Center Health Program may soon have to turn claimants away due to enrollment caps. The VCF also recently updated its FAQs — a comprehensive reference for anyone considering filing a claim.
Below is an overview of the portions of the updated portions of the FAQs. For more information about the VCF, including submitting a claim, providing documentation, or appealing a denial, please contact the VCF lawyers at Pitta & Baione.
1.2: I submitted my claim. When will a decision be made on my claim?
If you have already submitted a claim to the VCF, one of the top questions on your mind likely is “When will I receive a decision?” The VCF notes that, generally, claims are reviewed on a “first-in, first-out” basis in the order in which the claims were received. Claims that were submitted in late 2017 are now receiving award decisions, while those submitted in early-2018 are currently under review. Claims filed later than early 2018 are not yet under review. The VCF notes that it is working to reduce the timeframe needed to review claims, with a goal of reaching a determination within one year of filing. However, it also notes that each claim is individually reviewed and calculated, meaning that individual decision timelines will vary on a case-by-case basis.
4.4: I amended my compensation claim. When will a decision be made?
Individuals who file claims to the VCF may amend their claims if new information comes to light that may support higher awards. For example, if you believe that the percentage of disability the VCF attributed to your eligible condition was too low and you find new information you did not previously submit, you may submit an amendment with the new information supporting a higher percentage. The VCF notes here that its first priority is to issue decisions on claims that have not received awards. Thus, if you amend a claim that has not yet been decided, your amendment will not change your priority date. But if you amend a claim that has already received an award determination, your priority date will be pushed back to the date of the amendment rather than your original filing date. As such, it is advantageous to submit amendments before you have received an award to avoid delay.