Can I Pursue a Claim With Both the VCF and the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund?

By Troy Rosasco

Can I Pursue a Claim With Both the VCF and the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund?Both the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund (also known as the VSST or USVSST Fund) compensate victims of terrorist attacks, including the 9/11 attacks. As the victim of such an attack, including the surviving dependents of individuals who lost their lives due to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, you may want to pursue the maximum compensation you deserve for the losses you faced. Can you file a claim through both the VCF and the USVSST?

In the vast majority of cases, a person who was diagnosed with a 9/11 cancer or other illness, the best option is to file and pursue a claim with the VCF, for several reasons.

  • First, The VCF is required by law to reduce any benefit paid by any collateral sources relating to the 9/11 attacks, including any VSST payments made to victims who are also eligible for compensation from the VCF. If a VCF claimant has a simultaneous claim with the VSST and the VCF, the VCF will not be able to pay the claim until the full value of the VSST payment is known, which is currently not until 2030.
  • Second, should a VCF claimant who has already received an award apply to the VSST for additional compensation, then payment of any amended claim (such as for another cancer or a death claim) with the VCF would likely be put on hold until the year 2030.
  • Third, the VSST requires that a lawsuit be brought against Iran (or other foreign state sponsor of terrorism), a judgment obtained from the court, and then an application made to the VSST to pay the judgment.
  • And fourth, the VSST is insufficiently funded (unlike the fully funded VCF) and we expect that the VSST will pay only about 1% of the amount of any judgment entered by the Court against Iran or other terrorist nations.

What Is the USVSST?

The U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund offers compensation to victims of terrorism in the United States. This may include both individuals who suffered an immediate injury due to the terrorist attack and those who may have realized the full extent of their injuries only after some time had passed. The USVSST pays out in rounds of payments, so applications submitted now can lead to compensation in future rounds of payments, not in the upcoming round. The last round closed to applications in February 2020.

What Is the VCF?

The VCF offers compensation specifically to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including both those victims that suffered immediate injury or loss of a loved one at the time of the accident and those victims who may have realized the full extent of the injuries they faced much later, as cancer or lung ailment diagnoses came to light. The VCF compensates victims for the medical expenses they incurred and for their overall suffering.

Can I File a Claim with Both the VCF and the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund?

Both the VCF and the USVSSTF aim to provide compensation to victims of terrorist attacks. As a victim of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, you can file a claim with both the VCF and the USVSSTF, but in the vast majority of cases, you will file a claim with the VCF and not the USVSSTF.  This is because, in most cases, you will receive full payment available under VCF guidelines but only a fraction of any award under the USVSSTF.

If You Already Filed a Claim with the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund

If you already filed a claim with the USVSSTF, you may need to wait until that claim processes to finish processing your claim through the VCF. In many cases, the VCF will offset the USVSSTF payment: the payment you receive through the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund will lead to a corresponding decrease in the payout you receive from the VCF.

Sometimes, victims of the 9/11 attacks may have already filed a claim with the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund before realizing they qualified for aid through the VCF. You may come to realize that you can receive more compensation through the VCF, leading to a claim filed through each fund.

In this case, you should certainly file your claim with the VCF and proceed as normal. If you still need to wait to find out the full award offered by the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, it can slow the progression of your VCF claim, since the VCF may not make a full determination on your claim until you know how much you will receive through the USVSSTF, a period that can be many years.

If You Have Not Filed a Claim with the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund

If you have not filed a claim with the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, but you have already begun your VCF claim or intend to begin a VCF claim, you may not want to file a claim with the USVSST Fund at this time. Filing that claim will slow down the processing of your VCF claim and prevent you from getting the compensation you deserve as soon as you need it.

You will also need to notify the VCF about any funds you receive from another source in compensation for the damages and injuries you suffered from the 9/11 attacks since it can affect the compensation you ultimately receive through the VCF. The VCF is careful, and rightfully so, about preventing any double recovery.

How Can Filing a U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund Claim Affect My VCF Claim?

Your U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund claim can impact your VCF claim in two key ways.

1) It may decrease the compensation you receive through the VCF.

If you file a claim through the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund and receive compensation for the injuries you suffered due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it may decrease the compensation you receive through the VCF, usually by the corresponding amount. The VCF looks at any other compensation you have received for your injuries or diagnoses, including the compensation offered by the USVSST Fund, before determining the full amount of your award, so receiving compensation from another source can decrease the amount you ultimately receive for your VCF claim.

2) It can slow down the processing of your claim.

Your VCF claim may proceed slowly, especially if the VCF has to come back to you for additional information for any reason. If you have not yet received a determination from the USVSSTF, the VCF may need to wait until you know how much you will receive through the USVSSTF before deciding your VCF claim and the amount you will ultimately receive in compensation. In most cases, this period will be many years.

Do I Have to Notify the VCF if I File a U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund Claim After Receiving a VCF Claim?

Yes. You will need to notify the VCF any time you recover compensation through another source, even if you receive that compensation after your VCF claim has gone through. The VCF may change its payments to you accordingly, especially if you have payments coming in over time.

Does a U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund Claim Impact My Ability to Pursue Treatment Through the World Trace Center Health Program?

The World Trade Center Health Program helps provide medical treatment for victims of the 9/11 attacks who suffered a known injury or diagnosis associated with exposure to the dust cloud around Ground Zero and Lower Manhattan. Many victims have continued to see serious diagnoses that require ongoing medical treatments. The WTC Health Program provides treatment for those diagnoses free of charge. For many victims, this makes medical care more affordable and accessible.

You can seek treatment through the WTC Health Program regardless of what compensation you receive for your illness or injuries following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. If you received a payment through the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, you can still pursue treatment through the WTC Health Program; and receiving treatment through the WTC Health Program will not prevent you from seeking compensation through the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.

Where you receive medical treatment will have little impact on the compensation you receive for the suffering you faced as a direct result of a terrorist attack, whether you seek compensation through the VCF or the USVSSTF. However, some victims who choose to pursue treatment at other locations, or who pursue treatment on their own before seeking aid through the WTC Health Program, can receive compensation for the funds they have spent on medical expenses.

What Should I Do If I Believe I Have Grounds to File a Claim Through the VCF or the USVSSTF?

If you believe that you have grounds to file a claim for government compensation due to injuries you suffered because of a terrorist attack, the steps you take can help protect you and your right to financial compensation.

1. Seek medical treatment for any injuries or diagnosis you face.

If you notice symptoms of any of the illnesses associated with dust cloud exposure at Ground Zero, seek medical treatment as soon as possible. You may pursue treatment independently or through the WTC Health Program; however, to seek compensation for any illnesses suffered due to dust cloud exposure, you will likely need to pursue certification through the WTC Health Program, which will prove that you received a diagnosis related to the 9/11 attacks.

Work out a treatment plan with your doctors and follow it to the best of your ability. In some cases, if you refuse to follow doctors’ orders or take steps that can prevent you from healing from your illness, it can reduce the compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries.

2. Get in touch with an experienced 9/11 attorney.

As soon after your diagnosis as possible, get in touch with an experienced 9/11 attorney. An attorney can help you as you file your VCF claim. Not only can an attorney help you collect the evidence you need to prove your claim, an attorney can help guide you through the process of filing your claim and ensure you fill out all the paperwork properly, ultimately making it easier for you to pursue compensation.

An attorney can also help you determine whether you may have grounds to file a claim through the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, how that claim may impact your claim with the VCF, and how you want to proceed as you file a claim for government compensation related to injuries you suffered due to the acts of terrorism on 9/11. Often, an attorney can help give you a better idea of which decision will prove the most financially responsible and how you can maximize the compensation you should receive based on the claim you have a right to file.

3. Collect the necessary paperwork and evidence.

To file a claim through the VCF or with the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, you will need to provide documentation and paperwork concerning your involvement and the impact of those terrorist attacks. For the VCF, you may need to prove your presence at Ground Zero or in Lower Manhattan at the time of the attacks or in the months following, when exposure to the dust cloud increased the likelihood of developing severe illness in citizens who lived, worked, and volunteered in that area.

You may need to show rent receipts or document homeownership in that area, school records, or volunteer or employment records establishing that you worked in Lower Manhattan after 9/11. You may also need to show evidence of your diagnosis, including your medical records, and any bills you have paid for treatment if you chose to pursue treatment outside the WTC Health Program. For the WTCHP, that’s between 9/11 and July 31, 2002. For the VCF, that’s from 9/11 to May 30, 2002.

Hansen & Rosasco - 9/11 lawyersAn experienced 9/11 attorney can help guide you through the process of filling out all the forms associated with a VCF claim and, if needed, a U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund claim. In both cases, if you fail to fill out the paperwork correctly, you may face delays in receiving the compensation you deserve for your losses. By working with an attorney, you can increase the odds that you will fill the paperwork out correctly, provide all the necessary evidence, and get it right the first time.

In some cases, you may have the right to expedite your claim: you need immediate funds to prevent bankruptcy, utility turnoff, or losing your residence, for example. An attorney can help guide you through the process, expedite your claim, and prevent unnecessary delays.

Posted under: 9/11 Victim Compensation

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