The expansion of VCF claim eligibility to victims of various cancers is a victory for first responders, rescue workers, cleanup workers and others who braved the aftermath of 9/11 to help pick up the pieces. However, the increase in size of the pool of potential claimants also raises questions about whether the $2.775 billion allocated to the fund by the James Zadroga Act is sufficient to provide adequate compensation to all claimants.
In October 2013, on the eve of the first major filing deadline for participation in the new Victim Compensation Fund and shortly after prostate cancer had been added to the VCF’s list of presumptively covered conditions, I was asked by CBS News how the inclusion of prostate and other cancers could affect the administration of the fund. My response: “The fund is set up beautifully to compensate the people who need it the most. But it begs the question: Is there enough money?” Recent VCF statistics make this question all the more compelling:
- As of January 28, 2014, the VCF has rendered 323 final compensation decisions distributing more than $135.5 million.
- Another 999 claimants have already been deemed eligible and are awaiting compensation review.
- Another 1,287 claimants have submitted applications and are awaiting eligibility determinations.
- Another 6,602 claimants have submitted applications that cannot be reviewed at this time due to completeness and compliance issues.
- More than 53,000 people have registered as potential claimants and could still file applications.
- Those diagnosed with covered cancers as well as those who received diagnoses subsequent to the opening of the new VCF could still register.
Although there is no reason yet to fear that the funds are insufficient, these statistics do demonstrate the importance of acting quickly and relying upon an experienced 9/11 compensation lawyer to thoroughly document you claim to secure your fair share of fund proceeds.