As I assume my responsibilities as Special Master for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”), I do so with great humility and deep appreciation for the significant progress the VCF team has made under Sheila Birnbaum’s steady leadership since the passage of the Zadroga Act in 2010 and its reauthorization in December 2015. I also come into the position with an acute awareness of the urgency of continuing that work so that claims are processed promptly and efficiently in order to provide full compensation to those who have suffered as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I want to thank Sheila for her compassion and dedication to designing, implementing and operating a program for the last five years that is transparent and fair and attuned to the needs and concerns of our claimants. As we move through this transition period, I have made clear to the VCF staff that our number one priority is to process and pay claims with thoughtful consideration and without unnecessary delay. There will be no slowdown while I get up to speed.
I am pleased to report on several significant developments. First, we have reached new milestones with respect to the payment of Group A claims and the evaluation and determination of Group B claims:
- We have authorized payment on all Group A claims, including fewer than 40 claims for which the funds have been placed into a holding account while we await final documents needed to pay the claim. We have begun the reconciliation of Group A funding as this final accounting is needed in order to begin paying Group B claims.
- We have been issuing Group B award decisions and expect to begin authorizing payment on Group B claims in mid-August.
- We have almost 1,500 claims that have been designated as “Group B Complete” – meaning that they have been fully evaluated and their loss computed. We will be issuing the award determinations on these claims over the next few months.
Second, earlier today, the VCF released its new online claim form, allowing claimants to file new claims or to file amendments to an existing claim. We have made significant improvements to our online claims system and believe claimants will find it to be much simpler and user-friendly. Many other updates have been posted to the www.vcf.gov website, including updated information on how to file a claim, and tip sheets and other resources to use as a reference when completing the new claim form. I encourage you to browse the information on the site and to contact our toll-free Helpline at 1-855-885-1555 if you have any questions about the claim form, the website, or the VCF process.
I am both excited and humbled by this opportunity to serve you, the 9/11 community, a community that has sacrificed so much and suffered for so many years without adequate resources to compensate for your losses. There is much work yet to be done and I stand ready to help the VCF build upon its successes and move into the next phase of the program with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to provide the help that is so urgently needed and so justly deserved.
With best regards,