Beginning in January, 2014, Special Master Sheila Birnbaum and the Deputy Special Master presided over the first Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) appeals hearings held in New York City. The specially trained and recruited Hearing Officers joined them, conducting both in-person and telephone conference hearings.
According to the VCF press release, those overseeing the hearings have the goal of providing timely hearings and decisions to everyone appealing their claims. Appealing claimants receive notifications of the hearing decisions in writing. Subjects of appeals typically address:
- Denied claims due to missing proof of presence
- Denied claims based on a particular injury or illness categorized as ineligible
- Inadequate calculation for the amount of compensation
Appeals hearings are non-adversarial in nature and claimants or their personal representatives can provide information and evidence to support the appeal, which may include witnesses and expert witnesses. Video conferences are also available to accommodate long distance claimants.
Claimants receive Appeal Request Forms and instructions for submission along with the VCF letter that notifies the claimant of the claim decision. However, having a VCF law firm with extensive experience handling 9/11 claims and appeals can provide reassurance and increase the odds of obtaining a favorable decision.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, once the appeals process is completed or the claimant accepts an award, the VCF issues the first payment within 20 days of that date.
Barasch & McGarry can answer any questions and explain the appeals process in greater detail so you know what to expect.