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Message from the Special Master on the 19th Anniversary of the September 11th Attacks

September 11, 2020

Dear Friends:

This year, as we commemorate the 19th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we do so with even heavier hearts as we see the added struggle of those with 9/11-related health conditions, and the particularly severe impact of COVID-19 in New York.  We realize that in the months ahead, we are likely to see claims on behalf of those who have a 9/11-related condition and have suffered or died as a result of COVID-19.  I want to take this opportunity to assure the 9/11 community that, as with all claims, we will review each case on its own facts in view of the laws governing the VCF.  We have posted to our website a specific FAQ that explains how the VCF will evaluate claims where COVID-19 may have been a factor in an individual’s death, and we will be updating this information as needed. 

Despite the difficulties of our times, the VCF remains active, fully operational, and productive.  Our latest program statistics, available on our website and updated each month, reflect steady progress that is a result of our team’s unwavering commitment to the 9/11 community.  Since the enactment on July 29, 2019, of the “Never Forget the Heroes, James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act,” the VCF has communicated initial award decisions to 8,491 individuals (out of a total of 31,690 initial awards communicated since the VCF re-opened in 2011), has communicated 1,226 revised compensation awards claims that had previously received one or more compensation award, and has awarded $1.85 billion (with the total amount awarded by the VCF exceeding $7 billion).  Fifty-six percent of determinations made since passage of the Permanent Authorization Act involved cancer as one of the claimant’s eligible conditions, and six percent were claims filed on behalf of an individual who is believed to have died of a 9/11-related illness.  In terms of the breakdown between responders and survivors – since July 2019, we have received 3,785 claims from responders, and 3,979 claims from survivors. Cumulatively, we have over 33,000 responder claims and just over 22,000 survivor claims. 

We are working to expand our vital outreach efforts, focusing on how best to move forward with outreach on a broader level now that our claim filing deadline has been extended to 2090.  The new October 1, 2090, deadline provides a tremendous opportunity to enhance outreach efforts to be certain that all those who did not know that the VCF existed or was open to them, did not know that their condition (or the death of their loved one) was related to 9/11 exposure, or did not realize that they were eligible to file a VCF claim or that the VCF would be in place beyond the previous 2020 end date, are aware of and educated about the VCF. 

We are proud to be in service to a community that has always risen to the occasion and faced seemingly insurmountable odds with uncommon perseverance and grit.  And as the nation has done now for 19 years, we join in honoring those who died on 9/11, those we have lost in the years since, and the many individuals who are living with the unforgiving consequences of that day.  We are grateful to all of those who advocated for the legislation that allows us to continue to bring some level of financial relief to this deeply deserving community, and we remain dedicated to doing so with care and compassion for decades to come.

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 1-202-514-1100.

Best regards,