Message from Special Master Sheila Birnbaum
January 15, 2015
Today, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) issued updated program statistics (available here). As of Jan. 2, 2015, the VCF has found 9,677 claimants eligible for compensation and has made 3,128 compensation determinations (approximately 67 percent of the compensation claims that have been submitted with appropriate supporting documentation). The total value of those compensation determinations is $804,116,233.
During 2014, the VCF increased the compensation determinations by a factor of 10. This improvement is attributable in large part to the increase in complete submissions from claimants and the cooperation the VCF has received from many employers and unions and from medical providers who have helped to provide the information necessary to determine compensation. As claim submissions have increased, I have increased the staff to enable prompt review and evaluation of claims. As we get closer to the final claim submission deadline, I expect to see an increase in compensation submissions and I will continue to adjust staff and forge relationships as appropriate to facilitate prompt and accurate compensation determinations.
We are continuing to expand our outreach team and our communications with claimants and their attorneys. We have added staff to handle inquiries from law firms and launched a project to increase our contact with claimants who do not have attorneys. We are revising our frequently asked questions page continually to address new issues and to provide better explanations. We also continue to expand the informational letters to claimants to explain in more detail what the VCF needs to evaluate their claims. VCF claims are not simple, but we want to make the process as straightforward as possible for every claimant. The VCF is always available to address questions from any claimant.
I am also pleased to announce that beginning today we will regularly release data showing new compensation determinations by the VCF so that the public can track our progress. This information will include data that answers frequent inquires to the VCF, including whether awards are for a personal injury or death, cancer or non-cancer condition, and include economic and/or non-economic loss. We will continue to provide quarterly and annual reports, but by making this information available more frequently and with a higher level of detail, we hope that individuals who are interested in the VCF’s work will find the information that they need.
While we improve information available to claimants and the public, our primary goal remains the same: the swift and accurate processing of all claims. We continue to add high-quality staff, train existing staff and implement better processes whenever possible.
Last, although our final filing deadline of Oct. 3, 2016 is over a year away, I encourage you to file your claim and all supporting documents as early as possible. The earlier your claim is filed, the more time we have to work with you to answer any questions, help you find any missing information, and send you your first payment.
I wish everyone in the 9/11 community a happy New Year. I have no doubt that 2015 will be the VCF’s most productive year to date.
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.