A Message from Special Master Sheila Birnbaum
July 3, 2014
Today, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) issued updated program statistics (available here). This report shows the progress we have made over the past few months. As of June 30, 2014, the VCF has issued 7,075 eligibility decisions and 1,145 compensation decisions. For the second quarter in a row, the number of issued compensation decisions has increased by more than 100% over the previous quarter.
This progress is a result of continued work with our partners in the 9/11 community, the legal community, and your Members of Congress. We speak regularly with individual claimants, their family members, and the attorneys representing VCF claimants to resolve issues affecting claims generally, as well as problems unique to individual claims. We strive to provide excellent customer service to anyone who contacts us through the VCF Helpline. And we are seeing results. As a result of this outreach, in addition to the increase in eligibility and compensation decisions, we have seen that the number of submissions with complete eligibility claims under review by the VCF has nearly doubled as compared to last quarter.
We continue to refine, expand, and upgrade our procedures so that we can increase the speed with which claims are reviewed and resolved. With more complete claims under review at the VCF, we have focused on transferring resources to where they will be the most effective. We are receiving fewer claims filed in paper form and more claims filed through our website. With less paper coming in the door, VCF staff can spend less time sorting through paper and more time focused on the content of the claim. As we increase our number of compensation decisions, we have also hired a team of people focused exclusively on processing payments to ensure that claimants receive their initial payments as quickly as possible. We are working to train VCF staff in multiple areas so that we can maximize resources in the areas needed at any given time.
The VCF has one upcoming deadline to keep in mind. If you were diagnosed with a covered cancer on or before October 12, 2012, you must file a Registration Form by October 12, 2014. Those diagnosed with a covered cancer after October 12, 2012, must file a Registration Form within two years of the date of their diagnosis. Prostate cancer was added to the list of covered cancers effective October 21, 2013, so those diagnosed before October 21, 2013, have until October 21, 2015, to register. Please see FAQ 3.4 on the VCF website for more details on covered cancers and FAQ 12.2 for more details about filing deadlines.
In the upcoming quarter, we will pause on September 11th to honor the memory of those lost to the terrible events of that day. Every day, the VCF’s work honors the sacrifice and suffering of so many individuals who were affected by September 11th. We take seriously the responsibility to do this work and to do it well.
As always, if you have questions about the VCF claims process, I encourage you to call our toll-free Helpline at 1-855-885-1555. For the hearing impaired, please call 1-855-885-1558 (TDD). If you are calling from outside the United States, please call 1-202-353-0356.