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How Long Will It Take My 9/11 Compensation Claim to Be Paid?

How Long Will It Take My 9/11 Compensation Claim to Be Paid?

By Troy Rosasco

The most frequently asked question we tend to hear is: “How long will it take my 9/11 compensation claim to be paid?”

For many survivors or responders who were at one of the 9/11 attack sites on September 11, 2001, or in the periods of high toxic exposure that followed, compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) marks the end of a rather long journey—one that began with exposure and years later resulted in cancer or another 9/11-related condition.

This long journey involved finding normalcy after the attack, dealing with the enormous psychological and medical burdens that toxic exposure caused, seeking a diagnosis of a certified condition, and finally compensation.

If you were exposed to the toxic dust plume from the World Trade Center or during rescue, recovery, or clean up of 9/11 terror attack sites (or simply lived or worked in lower Manhattan between 9/11 and May 30, 2002) and you have cancer other 9/11-related medical conditions, the experienced 9/11 benefits attorneys from Hansen & Rosasco can assist you in applying for free medical care and monitoring through the WTC Health Program, as well as compensation through the VCF.

Our attorneys have helped clients to secure these benefits for many years. We can shorten the time needed to file your claim and ensure that you submit sufficient documentation to prove your claim. That way, you will waste less time obtaining missing information during the review process.

The Process Involved in Getting Your VCF Claim Approved

The VCF is the benefit program that provides claimants who were injured by 9/11 toxic exposure the opportunity to seek compensation for wage loss and pain and suffering associated with their condition. Additionally, the family members of individuals who died from certified 9/11-related conditions can also seek compensation through a wrongful death claim. Here are the phases involved in the process of obtaining compensation.

#1. Registration

To file a claim with the VCF, you must first register with the program by your applicable registration deadline, as follows:

  • For personal injury claims, you must register with the VCF within two years of the date on which the WTC Health Program certified your condition. If you are never treated in the WTCHP, then it’s not too late to register and file a claim — you have until the year 2090.
  • For deceased claims, you must register with the VCF within two years of whichever is later: The date of the deceased’s death OR the date on which the WTC Health Program, through the private physician process, verifies the death as 9/11-caused.

Registering with the VCF only reserved the right to file a claim before October 1, 2090. Filing the claim is a separate process.

#2. Filing Your Claim

You can file your claim any time before October 1, 2090, as long as you have registered with the VCF by the deadline. To do so, you must provide documentation of your proof of presence at a 9/11 attack site during a period of high toxic exposure.

That time depends on whether you were a general responder, an FDNY responder, or a survivor who lived, worked, attended school, or was caught in the dust plume in the New York City disaster area. You must sign a medical release authorizing the WTC Health Program to share information about your certified condition for compensation consideration by the VCF.

#3. Preliminary Review

Once you have submitted your claim and related documentation, it will undergo a preliminary review process. The purpose of the preliminary review is to ensure that you have submitted all information necessary for your claim to be considered.

The minimally required documents that during the preliminary review of your claim include:

  • Claim Form Signature Page
  • Original and signed Exhibit A – “Authorization for Release of Medical Information”
  • Confirmation from the World Trade Center (“WTC”) Health Program that there is at least one physical health condition for which you have been certified for treatment.
  • Proof of Presence documents, such as third-party verification from a former landlord, employer, or someone else who witnessed your presence at an eligible area, employment or school records, or paystubs listing your employer’s address within New York City disaster area.
  • Social Security Administration Consent Form, which is required only if you are claiming economic losses.
  • Direct deposit information for your bank that will allow the VCF to make payments to your account.
  • Information about the attorney or law firm that is assisting you with your claim.
  • For deceased claims, the claimant must also submit a death certificate and other documentation proving that the death stemmed from a 9/11-related condition.

If you fail to submit the minimally required documentation to complete the preliminary review process, the VCF will notify you of the missing information and place your claim in inactive status until you provide the information. If the VCF does not receive the requested information in 60 days, it can deny your claim outright, or you will have to restart the process.

September 11 memorial - new york city

#4. Substantive Review

Once the VCF determines that your claim includes all of the minimally required documentation, it will progress from the preliminary review to the substantive review process, when the program administrators review the actual information contained in your documents to ensure that your claim is eligible for compensation.

Currently, it is taking about a year for VCF claims to reach the substantive review process, with award decisions being given several months after the substantive review begins. The VCF is working to shorten the process, to hand out award decisions on all claims within a year.

Every Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) claim is unique, however. Some claims involve an extensive amount of documentation and consideration, which can result in a longer time before approval.

#5. Award Decision

Once the VCF makes an award decision, you will receive payment. However, you can also amend your claim at any time for the VCF administrators to evaluate new information, such as a new diagnosis that could result in increased compensation. You can also amend your claim and file an amendment for reimbursement of unpaid past medical expenses totaling more than $5,000.

Always make medical expense reimbursement amendments to a claim after the VCF makes an initial award decision. Medical expense reimbursements require extensive documentation that can slow down the review process. The program’s administrators would rather claimants begin receiving an award first, and then present further evidence for additional compensation after they begin to receive compensation.

What If I Can’t Wait A Year For A Decision?

How Long Will It Take My 9/11 Compensation Claim to Be Paid? VCF compensation represents important and needed assistance to individuals who are generally experiencing a terminal life-ending medical condition because of their exposure to toxins at terrorist attacks that occurred more than twenty years ago.

It makes sense, in that light, that some of the claimants are nearing the end of their battle with a medical condition. Others have faced such acute financial losses because of their 9/11-related medical condition and the inability to work that they are in urgent need of money to cover daily living expenses.

While the VCF considers most claims on a first-in, first-out basis, the VCF understands that extenuating circumstances such as terminal illness or extreme financial hardship make it necessary to expedite certain claims.

If you face extreme financial hardship due to a terminal illness or the inability to pay rent, mortgage, or utilities, your attorney can request an expedited review of your claim. Typically the VCF notifies claimants within 48 hours whether it’s granted expedited review of their claim.

If your expedited review resulted in an award, the program will also expedite payment of your award in as little as three to four weeks, as the VCF issues payment on your claim along with its decision. If you wish to appeal an expedited award decision, you retain your right to the 30-day appeal period the VCF provides with award decisions.

Let Us Help You Get Through the Review Process Quickly



Posted under: 9/11 Victim Compensation

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