9/11 Memorial

Can I Make a VCF Claim on Behalf of a Deceased Family Member?

If your loved one has passed, but otherwise meets the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) Eligibility Criteria, you may be entitled to file a claim on their behalf.  But there are filing deadlines and other requirements that must be met, and many of them differ depending on whether your loved one died of causes related to his or her 9/11-related eligible condition or died of unrelated causes.

Death Caused by a 9/11-related VCF Eligible Condition

If your loved one passed from an eligible 9/11-related condition (generally a form of cancer if the death is 9/11-related), the VCF award will be comprised of: 1) the personal injury award, which awards for losses suffered by your loved one while alive; and 2) the wrongful death award for the victim’s family to compensate for the harm they suffer as a result of the victim’s death, including their pain and suffering and future lost earnings.  Each is calculated separately.

VCF will award non-economic loss for the victim’s pain and suffering in life based on the severity of the condition, and additional non-economic loss is awarded for the wrongful death portion of the claim.  For the latter, presumed amounts generally apply – $250,000 for the decedent, plus an additional $100,000 on account of the spouse and on account of each dependent of the deceased individual, as those terms are defined in the regulations.

VCF will also award economic loss (i.e., lost earnings, pension benefits) if your loved one was disabled by their VCF eligible condition prior to their death, and that disability resulted in a reduction in income. 

Death Unrelated to a 9/11-related VCF Eligible Condition

If your loved one had a VCF eligible conditions, but passed away as a result of unrelated causes (i.e., a heart attack), a claim can be submitted on their behalf for the pain and suffering (non-economic loss) they suffered prior to their death.  However, the claim would not be eligible for the additional non-economic loss described above that is awarded when a death was related to a 9/11 eligible condition.

Registration Deadlines for Claims Filed on Behalf of Deceased Individuals

If your loved one’s death was related to a VCF eligible condition (generally cancer), the Registration Deadline depends on whether your loved one died before or after July 29, 2019: 

Was Death Before/After July 29, 2019? Registration Deadline
Before July 29, 2021
After Two Years from Date of Death

For example, if your loved one died on August 8, 2015, the Registration Deadline is July 29, 2021.  If your loved one died on January 22, 2020, the Registration Deadline is January 22, 2022.

Appointment of a Personal Representative 

Regardless of the cause of your loved one’s passing, for all claims filed on behalf of deceased individuals, the claim can be submitted only by the Personal Representative of the victim.  Generally, the Personal Representative is the person who has been court-appointed as the legal representative of the deceased individual’s estate.  

The process for becoming the court-appointed legal representative varies, depending on whether the deceased individual had a Will at the time of their death.

If your loved one had a Will, the Personal Representative for a VCF claim will be the person who has been appointed as the Executor, by Probate Court, via a legal document called Letters Testamentary. 

If your loved one did not have a Will, the Personal Representative for a VCF claim will be the person who has been appointed as the Administrator, by Surrogate Court, via a legal document called Letters of Administration.

Will? Court Legal Document Title
Yes Probate Court Letters Testamentary Executor
No Surrogate Court Letters of Administration Administrator

Regardless of whether you are appointed Executor or Administrator, the result is the same: you now have the legal authority to file a claim on behalf of your deceased love one and VCF will recognize you as the claim’s Personal Representative.

Required Documentation  

If you’re pursuing a VCF claim on behalf of a deceased family member, there are certain documents that will have to be submitted with the claim, including: 

  • Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration
  • Death Certificate
  • Proof of Cause of Death (if you are claiming the death was related to a 9/11-related eligible condition)
  • Life Insurance records showing any benefits that were paid as a result of your loved one’s death
  • Various VCF-specific authorizations

Contact a New York City 9/11 VCF Attorney

If you lost a loved one due to 9/11 related illness, cancer, or injury, you may be able to pursue a claim on their behalf. Navigating the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund regulations can be extremely complex. It is best to have an attorney on your side who can fight for your rights and ensure you’re getting the maximum compensation possible for your VCF claim. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. handles 9/11 VCF claims for first responders, police, firefighters, and anyone who was present at a 9/11 site or in the exposure zone. Contact us today for a consultation.  

John P. Dearie

John P. Dearie is a graduate of Regis High School, The University of Notre Dame, and St. John’s University School of Law. After working at a corporate law firm in New York City for two years following law school graduation, he joined The Dearie Law Firm in 2011.

John represents injured New Yorkers in third-party negligence litigations, as well as first responders, workers, volunteers and residents in claims to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.