If you suffered physical harm as a firefighter or emergency medical services worker, or even as a resident or worker at or near the World Trade Center (WTC) on 9/11 or after the September 11th attacks, you may be eligible for financial compensation through the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). However, many first responders and their families file claims for compensation only to learn that they have been denied benefits.
If you initially filed a claim for benefits and received a denial, this does not have to be the final say in whether you are eligible for compensation. To be sure, there are appeal options, and one of the our dedicated New York 9/11 VCF lawyers can help you to appeal the decision. You should get in touch with an advocate at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. to get started on your appeal, but in the meantime, the following are some of the top things that you should know about appealing a 9/11 VCF claim denial.
Your Denial Will Come with Appeals Information
If you do receive a denial letter, that letter will include information about appealing the decision. You should not attempt to appeal on your own—the process is complicated, and you will need help from a 9/11 VCF attorney. The VCF clarifies that you can only appeal “if your eligibility denial letter or award letter includes an Appeal Request Form.”
You Only Have 30 Days to Indicate Your Intention to Appeal
One of the most important things to know about appealing a denial is that you will only have 30 days from when the VCF notifies you of your ineligibility to file your Appeal Request. The VCF’s policy handbook makes clear that you must file that form indicating your intention to appeal within this limited time window.
Your Appeal Must Include A Variety of Materials and Be Submitted Within 60 Days
After you return the Appeal Request Form to the VCF, you will need to get all of your appeals materials together quickly and submit them to the VCF. You will only have 60 days from the date of your decision letter to submit your Appeal Package. In one package—all appeal materials must be in a single Appeal Package—you must submit a Pre-Hearing Questionnaire, an Explanation of Appeal, and every piece of relevant documentation that supports your appeal.
Appealing is Different from Amending Your Claim
Do not immediately file an appeal: you could be better off simply amending your claim. As the 9/11 VCF Amendments and Appeals fact sheet explains, whether you should file an appeal or amend your claim depends upon the reason for your compensation denial. If you have additional information that you did not initially submit with your claim, or if your circumstances changed since you received the denial, you will likely want to amend your claim instead of filing an appeal.
You Can Appeal If You Received the Wrong Amount of Compensation
Even if the VCF says you are eligible for benefits, you may still need to file an appeal if you believe the amount of compensation is incorrect and that the VCF made an error in calculating the total amount of your compensation award.
Contact a 9/11 VCF Attorney in New York
At The Dearie Law Firm, P.C., we are a team of New York attorneys committed to helping first responders and their families who are entitled to compensation under the 9/11 VCF. [When you apply for benefits and are denied, we know that denial can be devastating – how about: We know that being denied access to benefits arising from 9/11 exposure can be devastating – or something along those lines]. For first responders who continue to suffer the consequences of exposure to harmful toxins, dust, and other materials at the WTC, it is essential to take all necessary steps to obtain financial compensation. We can also discuss potential options for compensation that you may not have considered.
A dedicated New York 9/11 VCF attorney can speak with you today about your case and appealing the decision to deny you compensation. Contact The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. for more information about the services we provide to first responders and their families regardless of where you might now be residing.