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Message from the Special Master - Tenth Annual Status Report

February 9, 2022

The VCF successfully navigated another highly productive year in 2021, in a year that saw not one but two significant anniversaries: the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Zadroga Act, which created in the VCF, in January, and then the solemn reminder months later that twenty years have passed since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Through these commemorations, through another year of pandemic operations, and with challenges in addition to those created by COVID-19, the VCF team remained energized and deeply committed to the mission of serving those who continue to be affected by the 9/11 attacks.

As you will see reflected throughout this 2021 Annual Report, we made important progress in several key areas. A particular point of pride for me is our progress in reducing the time it takes a submitted claim to move to award. In April 2021, that timeframe became 12 months or less, on average, in claims where we have the information that we need to process the claim, and we held steadfast to that timeline throughout the remainder of 2021. Reaching this one-year-from-submission-to-award mark was a commitment I made when I first took on the role of Special Master five years ago, we have worked long and hard to get to this point, and I am very pleased that we have been able to deliver. The VCF ended 2021 having awarded a total of over $9.3 billion to nearly 42,000 individuals.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, we remained an almost fully remote workforce in 2021– except for our intrepid Helpline, Intake, and Correspondence teams, profiled on page 11 – collectively putting forth great effort to remain a connected and collaborative team focused on serving the 9/11 community. We successfully reached the end of the registration grace period instituted in 2019, and with our expanded outreach and communications efforts, saw significant results: a record high of over 30,000 new registrations and 12,000 new claims submitted in 2021. At the same time, we issued awards on nearly 10,000 initial and amended claims this year (totaling nearly $1.5 billion), making progress towards our goal of moving claims out as quickly as they are coming in.

These accomplishments and those reflected in The Year in Numbers, found on page 5, clearly demonstrate the ongoing necessity of the VCF’s mission. This vibrant program is serving an important and continuing need two full decades since the tragic events of 9/11. You will see more about the VCF’s activities surrounding the milestone 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and our Special Report published to commemorate it, throughout the pages of this report.

As we begin 2022, I hope for a year that brings with it a sense of pre-pandemic days and more normalcy, both for the VCF team and for the community we serve. The pandemic has presented special challenges to the VCF community given medical vulnerabilities, and the VCF stands ready and eager to continue the work of serving the 9/11 community with compassion and diligence, building on our outreach momentum to raise awareness and reach all those who may be eligible, and dedicating ourselves to keeping award decisions flowing. My team and I are keenly aware of the importance of what we do, and we remain deeply committed to the resilient community that we serve.


Rupa Bhattacharyya