Message from Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya - Program Updates
August 24, 2016
It has been exactly one month since I officially joined the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”). In that time, I have had the opportunity to immerse myself in the workings of the VCF and begin developing plans for the future so that we can meet the goal of processing claims in a thoughtful way, but without unnecessary delay. I am pleased to report that we are well on our way to meeting the immediate goals that I set when I joined the program last month.
Last week, we confirmed the completion of Group A payments and I signed the first authorizations of payments for Group B claims. While it will take some time before all Group B claimants who have been notified of their awards will receive their payments, the beginning of Group B payments marks a significant milestone for the VCF following its reauthorization in December 2015. This is in accordance with our reauthorization timeline, which was first published on our website in January and has been updated periodically as each milestone has been met. I understand how critical it is that the VCF live up to commitments that it makes with respect to timing and anticipated progress, and I am very pleased that we were able to meet our commitment to complete all Group A payments, reconcile the accounts, and begin Group B payments in mid-August.
In addition, as you know, for the over 1,500 claims for compensation that were designated as “Group B Complete,” the demands placed upon the VCF by the Reauthorized Zadroga Act delayed issuance of award decisions. I am pleased to report that we expect that every one of those claimants will be notified of their award by Labor Day. Moreover, because the “Group B Complete” designation was an interim step until we could issue determinations on these claims, that designation will no longer be used; instead, as a general matter, claims with necessary documentation will be processed and determinations issued in the order in which they were received, barring any need for expedition.
While these steps are significant, we still have much work to do. As of August 1, 2016, when the new claim form became available, we have approximately 1,300 Group B compensation claims under review for claimants who have been deemed eligible. Within this group, there are less than 30 claims for which the compensation form was first submitted three or more years ago. I am personally committed to issuing decisions on every one of these older claims by the upcoming anniversary of the attacks. I expect to be able to provide further information soon regarding the overall timeline for processing all pending Group B claims.
While I recognize that no amount of money can alleviate the losses suffered on September 11, 2001, I am proud that the American people have recognized the debt that is owed to the 9/11 community, and I am humbled to be a part of the effort to pay that debt. I very much look forward to continuing to share reports of our progress in the weeks and months to come.