Message from Special Master Sheila Birnbaum
April 15, 2016
Today, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) issued updated program statistics (available here). This report shows the progress we have made since the VCF was reauthorized in December 2015.
As I have stated in recent messages, our most important priority at this time is paying all Group A claims in full as quickly as practicable. I am pleased to announce that as of March 31, 2016, we have authorized 3,624 claims to be paid in full, at a value of over $716 million. We are on track to meet our published timeline for completing these payments and continue to work directly with claimants and their representatives to address any issues that may prevent payment on a claim.
While our team continues to process and authorize payments, we were recently informed that the Department of Justice’s financial management system will be shut down between April 18 and April 26, 2016 in order to move the system to a new data center. Although this system outage will not affect the VCF’s activity in processing and authorizing payments, it will temporarily delay the issuance of payments by the Treasury Department. The VCF is working closely with the Department of Justice’s budget office to ensure that the outage has no effect on our overall timeline for Group A payments.
In addition to our focus on Group A payments, we have also made progress on the following important activities:
- We have drafted the updated regulations to reflect the new law and began the government review process that is required before they are posted for public comment. The final regulations will be effective no later than June 15, 2016.
- We continue to review Group B claims submitted prior to the reauthorization and have completed review of over 560 compensation claims. Although we cannot render determinations on these claims until the updated regulations are published, we have started to send “Group B Complete” letters to claimants to inform them their claim has been reviewed.
- We revised our internal procedures to accommodate the requirements of reauthorization and are working on ways to help make the process more efficient for both the VCF and claimants.
- We revised the claim form to reduce the number of questions and to target the information we need from claimants to process claims. We published notice of the new claim form in the Federal Register on April 8, 2016 and will accept comments until May 9, 2016.
As we approach the half-way mark on the 9,131 Group A payments, I am working with my team to plan in more detail for the processing of Group B claims. We are actively recruiting more staff with a goal of having an expanded team in place this summer.
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.