*** UPDATE: Since the date of this blog post, the deadline for filing a claim with the Victim Compensation Fund has been extended until December 18, 2020. ***
Since the deadly terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, individuals and their families harmed by the attacks have sought compensation from the U.S. government which initially assured first responders and downtown Manhattan residents that “the air (was) safe.” When it became clear that disabling respiratory illnesses and other diseases were linked to the WTC toxic dust, the government established the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which was designed to provide an expeditious and fair means of compensating eligible victims. The original VCF closed in 2003. Unfortunately, people exposed to the toxic dust continued to get sick. In 2011, Congress reopened the VCF.
Since the VCF reopened, officials at the VCF have made more than 3,128 decisions regarding claims and awarded over $800 million. According to the Fund’s 2014 year-end report, this marks a significant increase in claim decisions and payments from just a year ago. As of January 2014, the fund had only processed 323 decisions and awarded approximately $135.5 million.
The reason why the VCF has been able to make faster decisions and process payments more quickly has to do with staffing and better applications. Claimants are submitting more complete submissions as they better understand the process, and the fund has hired more staff to handle these submissions. These changes occurred in part due to heavy criticism the Fund faced over long delays in claims processing. It hired an additional 28 staff members and is now working more closely with attorneys and claimants to expedite the claims process.
In addition to processing claims more quickly, the Fund has also added certain online features, such as weekly updates and breakdowns on award types. This has allowed claimants and their attorneys to monitor the process and better understand the Fund’s decisions. The VCF will be open until October 3, 2016 and is set to pay out a total of $2.77 billion.
If you believe you are eligible for compensation through the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, contact the knowledgeable New York injury attorneys at Barasch, McGarry Salzman & Penson. The law firm represents more WTC claimants than any other law firm in the country. It has recovered well over $1 Billion from the two VCFs on behalf of its sick and deceased clients.