Message from Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya
September 6, 2019
Today’s program statistics report for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) reflects steady progress: as of August 31, 2019, we have made awards to 23,850 individuals, some more than once due to an amendment or appeal, totaling almost $5.6 billion in awards.
What is not reflected in the report is the VCF’s significant achievement in restoring the awards that had been reduced by a total of $193.7 million due to my determination in February that funding would be insufficient to compensate all then-pending and projected claims. With the July passage of the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act (“VCF Permanent Authorization Act”), which secured the VCF’s funding for claims and amendments filed through 2090, our first task was to address the nearly 1,700 claimants who received those reduced awards. On July 29, when the legislation was signed, I made a commitment to notify each affected individual of their unreduced award prior to this year’s anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and the VCF team has delivered on that promise. As of today, nearly 76 percent of claimants who had received a reduced award have already been notified of their unreduced awards, and we have nearly completed processing payments to 85 percent of those so notified. We will complete the task of notifying everyone who previously received a reduced award of their unreduced award by September 11, and payments (for those for whom we have the documents necessary to pay) will not be far behind.
The anniversary of the September 11th attacks is always a time for reflection, a moment when we should all stop and remember what we have lost but also what we have accomplished. We never forget the many lives that have already been lost, the families whose stories have been irreparably changed, and the unimagined toll that will continue to grow in the years ahead. But with our new legislative mandate in place, we stand ready to implement the VCF Permanent Authorization Act with a deep appreciation for the financial security that this legislation brings to the 9/11 community. And we are proud to be able to continue to serve that community to the best of our abilities for many years to come.
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.