Registering Your Claim With the VCF, Meeting Deadlines, and More
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has at least two different important deadlines: The first deadline is two years to register a claim with the VCF, and a second much farther off deadline (the year 2090) for when the claim must be completed and filed. Importantly, registration of a claim is not the same as filing a claim. Also, just as important, registration or participation in the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) does not register a claimant with the VCF.
Understanding VCF claims and what they mean for you, however, can cause some difficulties. How do you register your claim with the VCF? Is there a deadline to register your VCF claim? When does the two-year registration deadline time period start to run — the date that I was sick or a loved one died, or some other date? Is the registration deadline different for claims by survivors vs claims for family members in deceased cases? Working with an experienced 9/11 attorney can give answers to all of these questions, removing any costly guesswork, and making sure that all of the deadlines are met.
What Is Registering Your Claim With the VCF?
Registering your claim with the VCF is not the same as filing your claim. When you register your claim, you simply preserve your right to file a claim in the future. Registration does not obligate you to file a claim, but it does make it possible for you to file a claim later on, until the year 2090.
How Do You Register Your Claim With the VCF?
To register your claim with the VCF, you can follow one of two processes.
1. Call an Experienced 9/11 Attorney.
Call an attorney at Hansen & Rosasco to connect for advice on how to register your claim. The attorneys and staff at this 9/11 firm can register your claim for free, giving you the peace of mind to know that any deadlines would be met and that the registration is done correctly to ensure that your rights are fully protected. The firm’s lawyer or professional staff member will walk you through each stage of the registration process over the phone, making sure you understand the information you must provide and how registration can impact your future right to a claim. You can also use this opportunity to ask the attorney any questions you have about filing your claim.
The attorney can provide all necessary information, freeing you up to focus on other tasks.
2. Register Online.
Go to https://www.claims.vcf.gov/ and select the “Create Account” option. By registering online, you can create a portal through which you can easily upload supporting documents or access information related to your claim at a later date. For many people, online registration can make it easier to track their claim and its approval or denial, which can provide immense peace of mind throughout the filing process.
When you register online, you will need to:
Create a unique username. You will need a username that meets your specific criteria. You will need to enter:
- Your username
- Your password (one that meets the security requirements)
- Your name
- Your email address (choose one that you have easy access to and can check regularly)
- The answers to security questions that you can use to get back into your account if you ever get locked out for any reason
Confirm your account. Once you create your account, it will take you to a confirmation page that indicates the successful creation of your account. You can then click the link on that page to go back to the welcome screen.
Sign in. Use your new username and password to log in to your VCF account. At this point, you have only created an account; you have not registered your claim or secured your right to a future claim. Make sure you follow all the other steps to ensure that you have correctly registered your claim and that you can now move forward with the rest of the process.
Begin your registration. Click the “New Registration” link on the welcome screen. This link will open a new link that issues you a claim number and allows you to begin the process.
It will ask you to provide:
- The name of the victim
- The name of the claimant, if different from the victim. For example, if you need to file a VCF claim on behalf of a deceased loved one, you might list yourself as the claimant.
- Information about your attorney, if you are using one. Using an attorney can help you fill out all the information related to your claim and decrease the odds that you will miss vital information.
- Any alternate contacts if, for example, you want to allow your spouse or children to handle information related to your claim, you might choose to include it in this section.
Once you have filled out all the requested information, you can submit your registration. You will need to click the “finalize and submit registration” link to finalize your registration and secure your right to a claim. Once you have submitted that information, you no longer have the ability to change your name, social security number, or date of birth on the claim.
Make sure that you see the “registration submission successful” confirmation box before navigating away from the page or closing your window. Without this notification, you will not know that you have successfully submitted your information and secured your registration with the VCF. If you fail to complete this information promptly, it could hurt your ability to file a claim.
Your registration through the VCF secures your right to file a claim, but it does not begin the claim process. Once you register, you can fill out the information to start your claim, or you can come back to it at a later date. If you choose to work with an attorney, you may want to have your attorney walk you through the paperwork that gets submitted as part of your claim, rather than trying to complete it on your own. Your attorney can double-check your forms for accuracy and help ensure that you have no missing information.
Do You Have to Start a Claim After Registering?
You do not have to begin a VCF claim immediately after registering. Your registration simply begins the process and secures your right to file a claim in the future. Some victims may choose not to file a VCF claim at all, especially if they are not suffering from any 9/11 condition or never receive healthcare through the WTC Health Program and do not experience additional financial hardship as a result of diagnoses associated with their participation at Ground Zero. Others, on the other hand, may decide that they need to pursue that claim at a later date. By registering, you help ensure that you have the future right to take care of that process, even if you do not want to do it immediately.
VCF Claim Registration Deadlines: What Do You Need to Know?
To file a VCF claim, you will need to register before your deadline. Deadlines exist to help protect you and other victims of the 9/11 attacks, as well as encouraging victims to take action to secure their claims as soon as possible.
Do You Have a Current Certified Illness?
If you have a current diagnosis of a certified illness included on the list of conditions covered by the WTC Health Program and you received your certification from the WTCHP before July 29, 2019 (or is a loved one passed away before July 29, 2019), you have until July 29, 2021, to register. If your loved one passed away after July 29, 2019, or your disease or health condition is certified by the WTCHP after that date, then you must register with the VCF within two years from the date of death or the date of the WTCHP certification. That does not mean that you must file a claim by that date—you just need to register on or before that date.
Did a Member of Your Immediate Family Die as a Result of 9/11?
If you lost a loved one due to the events of 9/11, including volunteering at Ground Zero or living and working in Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the attacks, you may have grounds to file a claim through the VCF. You will, however, need to file your claim before July 29, 2021, if your loved one died before July 29, 2019. If your loved one died after July 29, 2019, from what you suspect may be a result of a WTC Health Program-covered illness (or any type of cancer), you must register with the VCF within two years of your loved one’s death.
Are You Currently Healthy?
If you are currently healthy and have no diagnoses related to your volunteer efforts or other contributions in the aftermath of 9/11, or if you lived or worked in Lower Manhattan in late 2001 or early 2002, you do not have to register to file a claim through the VCF. If you do receive a diagnosis, you will need to register within two years of the date of certification. That means you have two years after certification of the latest condition, not necessarily that you have two years after the certification of the first one. If you have multiple conditions, you should register with the VCF as early as possible.
Waiting to Register Versus Early Registration
Once you know that you have a WTC Health Program-certified condition, including cancer, digestive disorders, or lung problems, you should register with the VCF as soon as possible. Registering with the VCF does not start your claim, but it does serve the valuable purpose of meeting the registration deadline.
Your registration allows the VCF to:
- Prioritize its resources. While the latest legal mandates regarding the VCF allow it to pull funds as needed to pay out claims for all victims of 9/11, the program does not have limitless resources or staff. By registering, you give the VCF more time to determine how many staff members it needs to keep on hand and what roles they will serve.
- Keep claims moving smoothly. When you do file your claim through the VCF, you want the process to move smoothly. It usually takes months to process a VCF claim. External factors can extend the time needed to process claims. For example, the COVID-19 crisis backed up claim processing in the office for a time, extending the time necessary to process each claim. Since the VCF processes claims on a first-come, first-serve basis, multiple claims rolling in at the same time could extend the time needed to process your claim.
How Does Registration Affect Filing a Claim Through the VCF?
Once you register with the VCF, you can decide when and if you want to file your claim. The latest legislation related to the VCF, the Never Forget the Heroes, James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act, establishes that victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks have until October 1, 2090, to complete the filing of a claim related to their losses following those attacks, as long as they meet their applicable registration deadlines. Importantly, while you may have until 2090 to gather the proof required to file a claim, as a practical matter, as the years pass it will become increasingly difficult and eventually impossible for you to gather the proof for a successful VCF claim.
Registering Does Not Obligate You to File a Claim.
You still have the right to decide whether you want to pursue compensation for your losses related to 9/11.
You Can Choose when to File Your Claim.
You may want to wait until you have a better idea of how your condition will impact your life, including what financial losses you will face as a result of your condition, before you file your claim.
For example, some individuals discover that they cannot work while undergoing treatment. Others may have very aggressive illnesses that may progress more quickly than anticipated. In that case, you may want to expedite your claim, allowing you to use the funds you deserve for your benefit.
Contact a 9/11 Attorney Today to Answer Any Questions You Have About Registering or Filing a Claim Through the VCF
Survivors and first responders of the 9/11 attacks have many questions about the Victim Compensation Fund, including how and when to register, the registration deadlines, and what filing a claim through the VCF can do for them. If you suffered from any cancer or other condition that you even suspect may be related to being downtown on or any time during the many months after 9/11, contact an experienced 9/11 attorney to learn more about your legal right to tax-free compensation.Posted under: Uncategorized