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Victim Compensation Fund

The VCF: Who Is in Charge?

April 7, 2014 | Michael Barasch

The September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was created to provide compensation to people injured and killed because of the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. By law, operation of the VCF requires a Special Master to administer the fund. 

In 2011, Sheila Birnbaum was appointed by United States Attorney General Eric Holder to act as Special Master of the VCF. Ms. Birnbaum manages payout of compensation claims to victims of the 9/11 attacks. 

Since her appointment, Ms. Birnbaum has pursued objectives that include the following: 

  • Revise and update the VCF website to include online claim forms.
  • Hire and coordinate staff to review and process claims.
  • Treat claimants fairly within the limitations of the $2.8 billion fund.
  • Supervise the fund in a manner transparent and respectful of the community served by the fund. 

Ms. Birnbaum, the daughter of a Russian immigrant grocer, grew up in New York. Prior to attending law school, she taught fourth grade. After law school, she entered private legal practice and later taught at Fordham University School of Law and New York University School of Law. Ms. Birnbaum is known for her skill with cases involving products liability and complicated litigation. 

Still in private practice, Ms. Birnbaum performs her duties for the VCF on a pro bono basis. When the VCF was originally activated in 2001, she mediated compensation claims for the first Special Master, Kenneth Feinberg. 

Despite the administrative challenges posed by the VCF, Ms. Birnbaum stresses the importance of addressing the “lived nightmares” of the victims of 9/11. She notes, despite the passage of time, the memories and events of that day remain real to those who suffered. 

If you have questions about the VCF or your compensation claim, speak with an experienced attorney in New York.

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