Last week, Special Master Sheila Birnbaum of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund released the program’s claim statistics. As of June 30th, 15,600 eligibility claims have been submitted. Eligibility is the first step of the claim process in which the VCF determines if an individual meets all the qualifications required to be approved to apply to the fund. Once eligibility is determined by the VCF and all of the necessary documentation and paperwork is submitted to support any monetary loss as well as the pain and suffering from certified 9/11 related illnesses, then the VCF can move forward to make a decision on how much a Claimant will be awarded.
Although much progress has been made in the speed of claims handling, the report clearly outlines some of the issues the VCF has been coming up against in preventing them from making just an eligibility decision. Out of the 15,600 claims that have been submitted only about ½ of those claims have the proper documentation.
In order to be compensated for 9/11 related illnesses or injuries, an individual will need to be determined “eligible” by the VCF by meeting certain criteria. There are 6,901 eligibility Claims that are on hold right now due to missing paperwork and information. The VCF will send correspondence to your law firm to alert them should these items be missing.
Below is a quick outline of what common issues may be holding up a claim and how to remedy these particular situations in order to get eligibility approval.
Missing signed Exhibit A – This is the authorization for release of medical records form. This form allows the VCF to obtain information about a Claimant’s eligible conditions. This is easily rectified by simply printing out the form, signing and initialing where appropriate and sending to the VCF.
Claims missing proper proof documentation – The VCF requires Claimants to provide proof of presence at the disaster site. The preferred form of proof that the VCF likes to see is witness affidavits. The VCF requires only 2 people that can attest to your presence in the disaster zone. Click here for a complete list of proof documentation accepted by the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
Claim missing information in regards to prior 9/11 Lawsuit – If you were part of a prior 9/11 related lawsuit, the VCF requires that all Claimants provide documentation showing that the case was settled before January 2, 2012 and the award amount. The VCF does offset this amount when making an award decision on your claim.
Claim missing NIOSH certification of illnesses – The VCF will only deem a Claimant eligible if thier illnesses have been certified by NIOSH (National Institute for Safety and Health). The fastest and easiest way to have your illnesses certified by NIOSH is by attending the World Trade Center Health Program. At the WTCHP, you will recieve free care and the doctors specialize in 9/11 related illnesses. There is the alternative to get certification through private physician forms, however this process may take longer.
For the full VCF program statistics report, click here.
If you would like to know more about the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and if you are eligible to apply, please feel free to call, click the chat button or request to be contacted at the top of this page.
Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.