9/11 VCF Deadline – What If I Already Submitted a Claim, but the VCF Denied It Because My Registration Was Found Untimely?

By Troy Rosasco

9/11 VCF Deadline lawyersThe VCF, or September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, helps provide vitally-needed compensation to individuals who suffered serious injuries or faced serious diagnoses because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Many first responders and the downtown workers and residents have gotten sick over the past two decades, and many sadly passed away from a 9/11 breathing problem or one of the over 70 types of cancer that have been linked to the 9/11 dust. The VCF, like all federal programs, has strict filing deadlines.

The VCF deadlines have changed several times over the years. Most recently, on July 29, 2019, President Trump signed into law the VCF Permanent Authorization Act. The VCF issued a new rule extending the deadline for ALL people who need to seek compensation to July 29, 2021, for any 9/11 victim who got sick or died at any time since 9/11. The VCF also clarified that the deadline for when a claim must be completed and actually filed as follows: After July 29, 2021, all claims must be registered within two (2) years from the date that the World Trade Center Health Program certifies a person’s illness as 9/11 related. This means that in cases where the victim was never a part of the WTC Health Program, the time for the two-year filing deadline has never started and the claim will be considered timely even if more than two years passed after the claimant was diagnosed with a cancer or other 9/11 illness. The deadline for deceased claims is far stricter: The family (or Estate) must register the claim by July 29, 2021, or, for deaths after July 29, 2019, within two years of the date of death.

What happens, however, if you had your claim denied due to filing after a previous deadline, only for the VCF Permanent Authorization Act to render your claim valid once more?

1. Get in Touch with an Experienced 9/11 Attorney

If you feel that you have grounds to file a claim through the VCF due to the enactment of the VCF Permanent Authorization Act, but you have had your claim denied already due to filing too late to meet a previous deadline, your first step should include getting in touch with an experienced 9/11 attorney. Your attorney can help you understand your legal right to compensation through the VCF and what steps you need to take next to secure needed compensation. An attorney offers many advantages to any VCF claim.

An attorney can help offer you more information about the options you have available concerning your claim.

An attorney can help go over your illness, the conditions that led to your illness, and any other information about your claim to let you know what options you have available. Often, in the case of a claim denial due to untimely registration before the institution of the VCF Permanent Authorization Act, you may have the option to resubmit your claim, even if you did not previously have an option for claim appeal.

When you filed your initial claim, you probably received a letter denying your claim. According to the VCF FAQ, if your claim was denied and you did not receive an Appeal Request Form, you did not have grounds to file an appeal before the policy change. However,  the extension of the VCF registration deadline will allow you to appeal or refile your claim.

An attorney will help ensure that you understand all relevant information concerning your claim and meet important deadlines.

To file a claim with the VCF, you must meet the new registration deadline of July 29, 2021, to receive compensation. If you face a new diagnosis certified by the WTC Health Program as related to your 9/11 after that date, you have two years after that new certification date to register a claim; however, without a new certified condition, you will still need to meet the July 29, 2021 deadline to file your claim and receive an award of compensation.

Registering with the VCF does not require you to file a claim or provide the VCF with the information you need to start that process. Instead, it ensures that you have the right to file a claim later. If, for example, you have conditions continuing to develop, you may want to wait until you have a full prognosis report from your doctors before completing and filing your claim. However, it does secure your right to file a claim for the injuries you suffered at a later date.

An attorney can review your past claim and help you seek more evidence, if needed.

You may have registered for the VCF in the past with inaccurate or incomplete information. You may have registered your claim with missing data: for example, you might not have had evidence of what led to your presence at Ground Zero, including employment or volunteer records. An experienced 9/11 attorney can review the information that you submitted and collect additional information regarding your claim to streamline the approval process.

2. Go Through the VCF Registration Process Again, If Needed, or Update Your Registration

Thanks to new registration deadline options, you may now have the right to register your claim with the VCF, even if you had your claim denied in the past due to filing too late. Keep in mind that, due to the VCF Permanent Authorization Act, you have the right to register any time before July 29, 2021, or if you face a new WTC Health Program certified diagnosis after that date. The VCF, however, encourages registering as early as possible to ensure your right to file a claim.

Keep in mind that registration does not necessarily mean that you have to have all your evidence in hand. You may already have gotten rid of evidence collected in the past, or you may not remember what you did with that information. Registering with the VCF does not require you to immediately submit evidence, including the medical evidence, related to your claim. Instead, it starts the process and secures your right to later file a claim. Your attorney can register for the VCF without securing all evidence needed for your claim.

For the initial registration process, you will need to provide:

  • Personal information about you, the victim, including your legal name and social security number
  • Your attorney’s information, including how to contact him
  • Any alternate contacts, if relevant

If you registered successfully in the past, but later had your claim denied, you may not need to register again. You may, however, want to update your registration information. Include information about your attorney, including his contact information. You want to authorize your attorney to submit information or contact the VCF on your behalf.

3. Review Your Claim Information

Sit down with your attorney and review your prior claim information, including everything you submitted with your first claim. The VCF will not approve a claim until you have submitted all relevant information, including:

Evidence That Establishes Your Presence at Ground Zero or in Lower Manhattan After 9/11

To receive compensation through the VCF, you will need to show that you:

  • Aided in rescue efforts at Ground Zero
  • Helped with cleanup or reconstruction in some way
  • Lived in Lower Manhattan on or after 9/11
  • Worked in Lower Manhattan on or after 9/11

All individuals who lived and worked in Lower Manhattan following 9/11, or who helped with cleanup and rescue efforts, all faced exposure to the fumes and the dust cloud in the air and that settled for a mile and a half around Ground Zero – dust and fumes that contained dangerous chemicals and substances, including asbestos, and led to many cancers and other illnesses.

Evidence Concerning Your Diagnosis

You must show that you have a covered health condition associated with your contributions at the scene of 9/11, including certain types of cancer and respiratory ailments. Many people did not start developing these conditions until many years after their contributions after 9/11 or after living and working in the area. Some continue to develop new symptoms related to the dust cloud.

If you received treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program, you may already have evidence that you have a certified illness for which you can seek compensation through the VCF. On the other hand, if you chose to pursue private treatment for your illness, you may need to provide further evidence of your illness and how it impacted you. You may need to submit copies of your medical records and statements from your doctors that show that you have a covered illness likely contracted due to your presence near Ground Zero.

Evidence of How Your Diagnosis Impacted Your Life and Finances

As you file your claim, you should carefully review the financial losses and complications you faced because of your diagnosis or diagnoses related to your involvement at Ground Zero.

Sit down with your attorney and review:

  • Your medical bills. If you sought treatment through the WTC Health Program, you may not have medical expenses related to treatment for your illness. The WTC Health Program offers free medical treatment for any conditions arising from 9/11 health issues, which means that many people can receive the medical treatment they need without worrying about the cost. The program, however, requires you to go through the WTC Health Program providers to seek treatment. You may have needed to wait for approval after your diagnosis, or you might have preferred to seek independent medical treatment for your conditions. In some cases, you might also have sought medical treatment without realizing that you could pursue free treatment through the WTC Health Program, incurring past out-of-pocket medical expenses. Talk to your attorney to calculate any medical expenses you may have sustained due to your conditions.
  • Your lost wages. Significant diagnoses, including cancer, can lead to a great deal of missed time at work. Any time you ended up hospitalized, you may have needed to miss work. You may not have had the ability to work at all during treatment, or you might have needed to limit your hours. You may also have found yourself too weak to go in to work some days, even if you continued to work throughout treatment, or you might have needed to miss time at work for specific procedures, including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries. Many people suffering from cancer or severe respiratory illnesses have had to go on Social Security Disability or other disability, but these payments rarely make up for the full lost earnings (and other benefits). All that lost time at work can lead to substantial lost wages, especially if you faced a long fight with your illness.
  • Your travel expenses. For many people with severe diagnoses, including cancer or mesothelioma related to exposure at Ground Zero, the best treatment centers fall several miles away from home. For many victims, that means traveling a substantial distance, incurring both hotel and plane or gas expenses associated with each treatment. You may have gone to many locations as you pursued the treatment necessary to conquer your illness.
  • Your other losses. Did you face other direct financial losses? For example, some people find that, due to certain illnesses, they can no longer perform household tasks like cleaning, laundry, lawn care, or home maintenance. Others may have trouble connecting with friends and loved ones, especially if they can no longer engage in the same activities they used to do together or suffer from exhaustion during treatments. Talk to an attorney about how to include those elements in your VCF claim.

4. Collect Any Additional Evidence Needed

Talk to your attorney about whether you need to include additional evidence in your previous claim, including losses you may have faced since your initial claim or evidence your initial claim did not include.

5. File Your Claim

Work with your attorney to put together your claim and file it. This helps your attorneys to make sure to include as much evidence as possible to make it easier to receive claim approval and to maximize the funds you can receive for your losses. An attorney will help review your claim and even submit it for you to ensure accuracy and completion for the maximum award under the law.

Do You Need an Experienced 9/11 Attorney?

Hansen & Rosasco - NYC 9/11 lawyersIf you faced a past claim denial for any reason, including untimely registration before the VCF Permanent Authorization Act passed, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Contact Hansen & Rosasco, LLP today for a free consultation and a chance to file a successful claim.

Posted under: The Victims' Compensation Fund

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