As we reflect on the 20-year passage of time since 9/11, we see the everlasting effects on thousands of Americans and individuals around the globe. As of August 2021, the Victim Compensation Fund has received claims from men and women from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and 31 foreign countries. At Barasch & McGarry, we read the statistics with a heavy heart, but it reaffirms our daily commitment to the 9/11 community to fight for the financial compensation and health coverage that they deserve. The universal commitment to “Never Forget” gives us our mission and purpose. We will always hold those affected in our hearts and continue to fight to support everyone who is battling life-long health conditions caused by their WTC exposure.
The after-effects of that terrible day linger. Mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, and others continue to experience loss and grief.
Sadly, at our firm, we have seen the number of terminally ill clients rise significantly. In 2014, the VCF established the “expedite claim process” for those suffering from terminal illness or demonstrating financial hardship. The process of expediting case reviews is slightly different, but for good reason – it is designed to accelerate the process to ensure the best quality of end-of-life care, and support for loved ones.
In September, the VCF published a 20th Anniversary Special Report (go to www.vcf.gov to read it and view videos).
Highlights in the Report:
Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya made special mention of the VCF’s hearings and appeals process, “a centerpiece of the VCF since its outset” and the “outreach efforts to ensure that all those who are eligible for compensation are aware of the VCF.” We join her in acknowledging the wonderful efforts of the VCF Helpline workers.
The Special Master has conducted “countless interviews” making sure that “accurate and timely information about the VCF is available.” The bottom line: “If you were there, register.”
This message was reiterated by the Special Master shortly after the July 29 registration deadline for those who have been certified with a 9/11-related illness more than two years ago. In a video tweeted out in early August, the Special Master made the following statement to people who believe that they missed the deadline:
“It may be that you’re already registered [with the VCF.] It may be that the July 29th deadline didn’t apply to you. It may be that you’ll be certified in the future with a 9/11-related condition that will make your registration timely. It may be that there are extenuating circumstances that will let me find you to be timely even if you’re technically late. The only way to be eligible for VCF compensation is to register. You don’t have to be sick. You don’t have to be diagnosed or certified with a 9/11-related condition. Please if you were there, register. We can sort the rest of it out down the road.”
The VCF pronounced that it has awarded $8.95 billion to over 40,000 individuals. The “unfortunate reality” is that 48% of claimants have cancer and that more responders have died of 9/11-related illnesses than those who were lost on September 11, 2001.