Message from Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya
April 28, 2017
Today, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) publishes its first Quarterly Report of 2017 (available here) and I want to take the opportunity to give you an update on our progress.
As of March 31, the VCF has rendered over 15,500 compensation determinations, including initial awards on new claims, and revised awards on claims with amendments or appeals. These determinations total over $2.48 billion awarded to VCF claimants.
In addition, we have made substantial progress on our oldest claims. As I noted in my last message, as of the end of 2016, nearly 2,500 claims were pending where the request for compensation had been submitted in 2015 or earlier. As of today, nearly 35 percent of those claims have been determined. At the same time, many of you have asked about the progress on review of compensation amendments. In response, we have added more resources to reviewing amendments, and I am pleased to report that of the nearly 800 compensation amendments that were submitted in 2015 or earlier, nearly 30 percent have been determined. This progress means that we remain on track to decide the remainder of the 2015 claims, whether new claims or amendments, before the end of this year (assuming we have all the information necessary to complete our review). Under our prioritization plan, which determines the order in which claims are reviewed based on the date the compensation claim or amendment was submitted, claims and amendments submitted in early 2015 are currently receiving award determinations. Compensation submissions from mid-2015 are under review, and compensation submissions from late 2015 will come under review soon.
In addition to progress on the oldest claims, we have also made substantial process improvements and issued new or clarifying policy guidance so that, as we look to the claims submitted in 2016 and 2017, we are in a position to resolve claims more quickly, accurately, and fairly. There is significant work still to be done. Just over 3,000 compensation claims are currently pending where eligibility has been approved. Another 3,700 claims are awaiting eligibility review prior to beginning compensation review. Moreover, there are 2,500 pending compensation amendments. Resolving this number of claims will take some time, but I am confident that the changes we have implemented since the reauthorization of the VCF in 2015, and since I stepped into the role of Special Master in July 2016, will continue to result in measurable progress. I am committed to making every effort to continue to improve our operation of the VCF while processing claims as promptly, accurately, and fairly as possible in service to the members of the 9/11 community.
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.