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Understanding the VCF’s Claim Review Process

If you’re preparing to submit a claim to the VCF, you may have many questions about the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) claim review process. VCF’s claims review process has two stages: the Eligibility Review and the Compensation Review. Since each claim involves reviewing a substantial amount of documentation, and each award is calculated individually, the process can take some time. VCF claims are reviewed in the order they are submitted. 

The VCF’s Preliminary Review

After submitting your claim by mail or online, the VCF will begin the preliminary review. During this stage, the VCF will make sure that it has received the “minimally required” documentation to process your claim. This paperwork includes your claim form, presence documents, applicable exhibits, authorizations to obtain your medical records from the WTC Health Program, and any other necessary documents.

If you are the Personal Representative of a deceased Victim, the claim will be reviewed at this stage for the specific documents required to pursue a claim on behalf of a deceased family member.  

If the VCF requires more information, they may request additional documentation. Failure to provide all required documentation for review will result in the VCF rendering your claim “inactive”. You will have 60 days to submit any requested documentation before your claim is denied. If your claim is denied due to failure to provide documentation, you can go through the process to amend it, and the VCF will reactivate it for review.

Substantive Eligibility Review

If your claim submission is complete, the VCF will proceed to substantively review your claim to ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements including:

  • Timely registration of claim
  • An eligible 9/11-related physical condition certified by the WTC Health Program
  • Proof of presence in the NYC Exposure Zone
  • No active 9/11 lawsuit pending

If requested by the VCF, a claimant has 30 days to provide additional documentation at this stage to prevent their claim from being denied. 

VCF Eligibility Decision

At the last stage of the VCF Eligibility Review process, the VCF renders a decision and will notify you by letter. If you are not eligible for compensation, the review ends at this stage, and you may file an appeal.

VCF Compensation Review  

During the Compensation Review process, the VCF will calculate the total amount of the award. First, they may contact a third-party such as the FDNY or NYPD, if applicable, to obtain information concerning your pension, disability, and earnings history — a claim cannot be processed without this information. If the VCF requests it, you have 30 days to provide missing information during the compensation review process to avoid having your claim dismissed. Otherwise, the claim may be calculated based on incomplete information.

The calculations to determine an award can be complex. Compensation for non-economic loss — i.e., pain and suffering — is determined by the severity of the injury or illness. This will be factored in with economic loss for past and future lost earnings and offset by pension payments, life insurance, workers’ compensation, and any 9/11-related lawsuit settlements.

Receiving Your VCF Award

The VCF will provide you with a breakdown of your award once compensation has been determined. If you believe your award was miscalculated, you can appeal the decision within thirty days. If you are satisfied that your award is correct, your victim compensation payout will be authorized within twenty days following the time to appeal. Typically, it can take up to three weeks from the date of authorization to reach the recipient’s bank account.

Contact a New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney

If you’re a responder or survivor who has suffered a 9/11-related health condition, you may be entitled to compensation. Navigating the VCF regulations can be confusing, frustrating, and complicated. It is best to have an attorney on your side who can fight for your rights and ensure that you receive the maximum victim compensation payout to which you are entitled. 

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have represented claimants and their families in 9/11 VCF claims for over a decade. For a free consultation, call 1-800-2-DEARIE. 

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.