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Will Filing an Amendment Change My VCF Award?

If you’re a responder or survivor who submitted a claim to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, your claim can be amended any time before October 1, 2090 if you develop a new 9/11-related eligible condition, are deemed disabled due to an eligible condition, or, God forbid, if you die from an eligible condition — even if the VCF already issued an award on your original claim. 

There are several reasons why a VCF personal injury claim may be amended — some amendments may be administrative, and others may arise from a new or worsening condition. Significantly, filing an amendment can sometimes increase the amount of an award that was previously issued to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for the impact your 9/11 health condition has had on your daily life. 

When Should You File an Amendment?

If the WTC Health Program certified you for an additional 9/11-related health condition after you’ve filed your VCF claim, or if your certified condition worsens, you may consider amending your claim. However, an additional eligible condition won’t necessarily change the amount of your award, unless your previous award was based on a non-cancer condition and the newly certified condition is a cancer. 

It’s important to understand that the VCF determines a pain and suffering (non-economic loss) award based on the severity of the conditions and the overall impact they have on your daily life, rather than the number of certified conditions. 

Filing an amendment can potentially change the amount of compensation if there is new information that wasn’t previously considered by the VCF when determining your award. You may also file an amendment to recover economic loss related to out-of-pocket medical expenses over $5,000.

When Would Filing an Amendment Not Result in a Change to the VCF Award?

According to the VCF, the amount of an award in most cases won’t change by filing an amendment if the non-economic loss award received was at the statutory cap, which is $90,000 for non-cancer conditions and $250,000 for 9/11-related cancers.

Although the VCF generally doesn’t allow compensation amendments when an award is issued at the statutory cap, responders and survivors may still file eligibility amendments to add a new condition — the VCF will consider issuing an award for additional non-economic loss in limited circumstances. The Special Master may award additional non-economic for a non-cancer determined to be “presumptively severe and debilitating.”   

Filing an amendment also will not change the amount of a VCF award if it was reduced by large collateral offsets — these are payments a responder or survivor may receive from 9/11-related lawsuit settlements, Workers’ Compensation, VA benefits, Social Security disability, and any payment from federal, state, or local government. Specifically, if the non-economic loss award would not exceed the amount of an offset, you should not file an amendment.    

Presumptively Severe and Debilitating Conditions

Although an amendment to a VCF claim for a non-cancer condition generally won’t change the amount of an award, certain conditions are recognized by the Special Master as being “presumptively severe and debilitating,” including Emphysema, Interstitial Lung Disease (including Asbestosis), and Sarcoidosis. 

Under the Reauthorization Act, the VCF may award the highest non-economic loss award allowable for these conditions. Amending your claim to include one of these conditions could result in an increase to your award.

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

If you are a responder or survivor who filed a VCF claim and were subsequently certified for another eligible condition, you may be entitled to additional compensation, depending on the severity of the condition. The process of filing an amendment can be confusing, frustrating, and complicated. A 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney can determine whether filing an amendment will change your compensation award. They can also guide you through the VCF claims process to help you receive the maximum compensation payout you’re 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, contact us today. 

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.