*** 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. ***
People exposed to toxins from the September 11 terror attacks must register for benefits by October 13, 2013 — or lose them. The Zadroga Act reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) to provide for respondents not covered by the first fund. Unfortunately, those who miss the October 13 deadline automatically lose their rights to these benefits.
“Some illnesses do not come forward until years later. The bill now covers cancers, so God forbid if you get a cancer later on, and if you haven’t registered, then you will not be covered with compensation and the support that you deserve. The point is, whether you are sick or not, remember to register. If you do not register, then the program cannot help you,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney at a recent press conference. On June 24, 2013, Maloney and Representative Jerrold Nagel launched an outreach program to encourage registration with VCF coverage.
The October 3, 2013 registration deadline applies to:
- Responders and their families who have known (or reasonably should have known) since October 3, 2011, of physical harm resulting from the September 11th attacks, and who plan to file a claim with the VCF.
- Those injured before May 30, 2002 who did not qualify or apply for compensation from the first Fund.
There are two ways to meet the registration deadline and become a claimant:
- Submit the completed registration form online
- Complete and mail a hardcopy of Eligibility Form Part I, even if the remainder of the form is not complete
If you already have legal representation, your attorney should have registered on your behalf.
It is important to know that registration with the Health Program is not the same as being registered with the VCF. Also, registering with the VCF and filing a claim are two different things. VCF registration means that the fund has your name and general information in anticipation of your filing a claim and has provided you with a VCF number.
When the 9/11 James Zadroga Act reopened the VCF, it was authorized to receive claims for five years from the date the VCF opened (October 3, 2011). Therefore, the deadline for filing all claim forms is October 3, 2016. To file a claim you must:
- Prove that you were present at the site
- Be diagnosed by a doctor and be undergoing regular treatment for your 9/11 related illness
- File a complete eligibility claim
Respondents not covered by the October 13, 2013 date have the following registration deadlines:
- October 3, 2016. Claimants who learned of physical harm suffered as a result of the 9/11 attacks after October 3, 2011
- October 3, 2016. Claimants whose known condition was not on the original list of qualified injuries but was added to the list after October 3, 2011
- October 12, 2014. Claimants diagnosed with cancer resulting from the 9/11 attacks and the diagnosis was known on or before October 12, 2012.
When you have completed your registration, it is a good idea to confirm that it was received. Call the toll-free Helpline at 855-885-1555 or 202-353-0356 if calling from outside the United States. The TDD number for the hearing impaired is 855-885-1558.
The qualified and experienced attorneys at Barasch & McGarry can help you make sure that all your documents are filed correctly and the correct deadlines for your status are met.