FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)


The Frequently Asked Questions provide additional information about various aspects of the VCF. Click the section title below to expand and collapse the list of questions related to that topic. Click on the specific question to read the complete answer. A PDF version of the FAQs is also available in English, Spanish, Polish and Chinese.


The VCF has a new reference document for detailed information on VCF policies and procedures. The document includes information on eligibility criteria, the methodology used to calculate economic and non-economic loss, payment procedures, appeals and hearings, claims for deceased individuals, and information for claimants who are represented by an attorney for their claim.


Section 1: Reauthorization

1.1 What does the reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 mean for the VCF? (Updated: September 9, 2016)

1.2 Who can help me understand the reauthorization and what it means for my claim?

1.3 Previous communications indicated that the VCF would stop receiving claims on October 3, 2016. Is this still the case?

1.4 The bill reauthorizing the VCF references Group A and Group B claims. Which group is my claim in?

1.5 What are the main differences between Group A and Group B?(Updated: September 9, 2016)

1.6 What happens if my claim qualifies as Group A and I amend it to add a claimed loss or condition? (Updated: June 15, 2016)

1.7 Information specific to Group B Claims (Updated: June 15, 2016)

Section 2: New Claim Form

2.1 I started my claim using the old system or the old form. What happens to it now that the form and system have both changed? (Added: August 1, 2016)

2.2 Do I now have to submit all parts of the claim form at the same time? (Added: August 1, 2016)

2.3 Once I submit my claim using the new form, when will it be processed? (Added: August 1, 2016)

2.4 Why does the Document Checklist in my claim list all required documents and not just the ones that are applicable based on my claim form responses? (Added: September 9, 2016)

2.5 How do I view my answers to the claim form questions once I submit my claim? (Added: September 9, 2016)

Section 3: Payment

3.1 What if my bank account or address has changed since my last payment?

3.2 How long can my attorney hold my payment before disbursing it to me? (Added: June 15, 2016)

Section 4: Registration

4.1 How do I register my claim with the VCF and what is my deadline? (Updated: September 9, 2016)

4.2 If my Registration was incomplete and I need to start over, will this impact whether or not my claim is considered to have been timely registered by my applicable deadline? (Added: September 9, 2016)

Section 5: How Do I?

5.1 How do I add or change the attorney on my claim? (Added: September 9, 2016)

5.2 What is the WTC Health Program Disability Evaluation Process and how do I sign up for an evaluation? (Added: September 9, 2016)

5.3 If I already submitted my claim, how do I add a new condition for consideration? (Added: September 9, 2016)




Section 1: Reauthorization


1.1 What does the reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 mean for the VCF? (Updated: September 9, 2016)

The reauthorization puts in place a new law that extends the VCF for five years and includes some important changes to the VCF’s policies and procedures for evaluating claims and calculating each claimant’s loss. The law includes the following significant changes:

  • Extends the VCF for 5 years from the date the legislation was signed - The deadline for filing a claim has been changed from the original deadline of October 3, 2016 to the new deadline of December 18, 2020.
  • Increases the VCF’s total funding - The new law makes the original $2.775 billion appropriation available immediately to pay claims and provides an additional $4.6 billion in funding that becomes available in October 2016.
  • Directs the VCF to make a full payment on any loss determination that has already been issued - For claimants who received a letter dated on or before December 17, 2015 notifying them of the amount of their loss, the VCF has processed the final payment for the remaining 90% of the loss amount.
  • Puts certain limitations on future award amounts - The law directs specific changes to the way in which the VCF calculates loss amounts for certain claimants. This includes limiting the amount of non-economic loss that can be awarded, eliminating claims for future out-of-pocket medical expenses and capping the computation of economic loss by limiting the annual income level.

As required by the reauthorization, the Special Master reviewed the legislation to understand how it impacts claimants and the VCF’s day-to-day operations and drafted updated regulations reflecting the new law. The Final Rule was published on September 2, 2016.

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1.2 Who can help me understand the reauthorization and what it means for my claim?

If you are working with an attorney, please contact your attorney for information about your claim. Your attorney is in the best position to let you know exactly what has been submitted to the VCF and when it was submitted, and can update you on any requests the VCF has made for additional information. Your attorney can also confirm whether or not the VCF has issued a decision on your claim and the timing of that decision. The VCF will also begin copying you on important correspondence we send to your attorney about your claim even if you did not specifically request that we do so.

If you are not represented by an attorney, you can call the VCF toll-free Helpline at 1-855-885-1555 for assistance. We also encourage you to periodically check this website for additional information on the reauthorization.

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1.3 Previous communications indicated that the VCF would stop receiving claims on October 3, 2016. Is this still the case?

No. The new deadline for filing a claim (and all supporting documents) is December 18, 2020.

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1.4 The bill reauthorizing the VCF references Group A and Group B claims. Which group is my claim in?

The law creates two groups of claims – Group A and Group B – and defines the groups based on the date the Special Master “postmarks and transmits” a final award determination to the claimant. The VCF has interpreted this language to mean the date of the letter from the Special Master indicating the total loss amount calculated for a claim. The law also establishes that the date of the letter that is used to distinguish between Group A and Group B is the date “on or before the day before the date of enactment” of the reauthorization. Since the law was enacted on December 18, 2015, this means that December 17, 2015 is the date “on or before the day before the date of enactment.” Based on the language set forth in the law, you can determine the group your claim is in based on the following:

  • Group A: If you received a letter notifying you of the loss calculation decision on your claim and the letter was dated on or before December 17, 2015, your claim is in Group A.

  • Group B: Any claim that is not in Group A will automatically be placed in Group B. That is, if you have not received a letter dated December 17, 2015 or earlier notifying you of the loss calculation decision on your claim, your claim is in Group B.

This means that Group A is “closed.” For specific details and important information about what it means to be in Group A or Group B, please read the additional FAQs below pertaining to the Reauthorization.

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1.5 What are the main differences between Group A and Group B? (Updated: September 9, 2016)

Highlighted below are the general differences between Group A and Group B claims.

  • Group A: If your claim is in Group A, your losses were computed in accordance with the regulations that were published in August 2011. The new law directed the VCF to make the full payment on your claim “as soon as practicable after enactment of the legislation.” The VCF completed the authorization of all Group A payments in August 2016, except for claims that have issues preventing payment.

  • Group B: If your claim is in Group B, the decision on your claim could not be made until the Special Master published the updated regulations explaining how claims will be processed under the new law and funding becomes available to pay Group B claims. This applies even if you had submitted your claim form and supporting documents prior to the reauthorization. Although the Final Rule was published on September 2, 2016, until all Group A payments are reconciled, payments cannot be made on Group B claims. The VCF is issuing award decisions on Group B claims and the Special Master has authorized payments for some Group B claims, but actual payments will not be processed until it is confirmed that all Group A payments have been processed and the funding for Group B claims is available.

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1.6 What happens if my claim qualifies as Group A and I amend it to add a claimed loss or condition? (Updated: September 9, 2016)

It depends on when a decision addressing the amendment was issued. Please read the scenarios below to find the one that describes your claim:

    If the VCF issued you a letter indicating a decision on your compensation amendment and the letter was dated on or before December 17, 2015, your amendment is in Group A.
  • If you submitted the amendment prior to the reauthorization and did not get a letter with a decision on your amendment dated December 17, 2015 or earlier, then the amended portion of your claim will now fall into Group B. This means you will receive the full payment for the Group A portion of your claim, and the VCF will then review your amendment and issue a separate decision under Group B guidelines. At this time, we are continuing our review of the information you have submitted with the amendment, and will contact you to request any missing information. Please see below for additional information about Group B claims.
  • If you amend your compensation claim in the future, the amended portion of your claim will be processed and paid under Group B. The Group A portion of your claim will be paid under the terms applicable to Group A.

If your claim is in Group A and you amend to add a new condition, the VCF will process that amendment and render an updated Eligibility decision. However, if you then seek additional compensation for the new condition once the new regulations and procedures are finalized, that portion of the amendment will be reviewed and processed under Group B.

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1.7 Information specific to Group B Claims:

a. I already submitted my claim. What happens next and when will a decision be made on my claim? (Updated: September 9, 2016)

The law reauthorizing the VCF requires two important milestones to be met before the VCF can begin rendering decisions on Group B claims: (1) the Special Master must develop and publish updated regulations that reflect the new law and adjust the procedures for calculating awards accordingly; and (2) the funding to pay Group B claims must be available. The first milestone was met when the Final Rule was published on September 2, 2016. The second milestone will not be reached until all Group A payments have been reconciled. At this time, the VCF is issuing award decisions on Group B claims and the Special Master has authorized payments for some Group B claims, but actual payments will not be processed until it is confirmed that all Group A payments have been processed and the funding for Group B claims is available.

Since the reauthorization, the VCF has continued to review Group B claims submitted prior to December 18, 2015. Please review the information below based on your specific claim status:

  • If you submitted your Eligibility Form before December 18, 2015 but have not yet received the eligibility determination on your claim - The law does not change the VCF’s eligibility criteria and we are continuing to review eligibility submissions and render Eligibility decisions. We will contact you if we need any additional information in order to determine your eligibility to receive compensation. If you have already received a letter from us requesting information and you have not yet responded, please do so within the timeframe requested in the letter. You will receive a letter notifying you once the eligibility decision has been made on your claim.
  • If you submitted your Compensation Form before December 18, 2015 but have not yet received the loss determination on your claim - As a general rule, we are reviewing claims in “first in, first out” order and plan to issue decisions on the same basis so that the first decision letters will be issued for claims that were submitted on the earliest date and those claims with exigent circumstances. If we need any additional information to process your claim, we will contact you to request the missing information. If you have already received a letter from us requesting information and you have not yet responded, please do so within the timeframe requested in the letter.
  • If you have not yet submitted your Compensation Form - You should complete and submit the compensation portion of your claim as soon as you are ready to do so. Please visit the “How to File a Claim” page on the www.vcf.gov website for useful guides and information on how to navigate the online claims system.
  • If you need to amend your previously-submitted claim - If you need to amend your claim to add a new condition or claim a new type of loss, you can submit your amendment using the online claims system. Instructions for how to file an amendment can be found on the VCF website under “Forms and Resources.”

b. When can I expect to receive payment and will the payment be pro-rated? (Updated: September 9, 2016)

Funding to pay Group B claims will not be available until all payments to Group A claimants have been made or October 2016, whichever is earlier. We have started rendering decisions on Group B claims and will begin to issue payments as soon as Group A payments have been reconciled.

Group B payments will not be pro-rated. Your claim will be paid in full for the calculated loss amount at the time the payment is processed.


c. I have a Group A claim and filed a compensation amendment that hasn’t yet been decided. What happens next? (Updated: June 15, 2016)

Your compensation amendment will be reviewed and processed under Group B. This means you will receive the full payment for the Group A portion of your claim, but the VCF cannot render a decision on the amendment until the funding is available to pay Group B claims.

As a general rule, we are reviewing submissions in “first in, first out” order and plan to issue decisions on the same basis so that the first decision letters will be issued for amendments that were submitted on the earliest date and for those claims with exigent circumstances. Although we are currently evaluating and making Group B loss determinations, we cannot finalize these determinations until Group B funding becomes available. For this reason, we are marking these amendments in our internal system as “Group B Complete” when we are done with them. This means we have completed review of the amendment and calculated the loss amount. You will receive a letter notifying you when your claim reaches this point, but the status of your claim will not change in the online system until the official determination is rendered for your claim. If we need any additional information to process your amendment, we will contact you to request the missing information. If you have already received a letter from us requesting information and you have not yet responded, please do so within the timeframe requested in the letter.


d. Why am I part of Group B if my claim was submitted before December 17, 2015? (Added: June 15, 2016)

The date you submitted your claim does not have any impact on whether the claim is considered to be in Group A or Group B.

The law reauthorizing the VCF defines Group A and Group B based on the date the Special Master “postmarks and transmits” a final award determination to the claimant. The VCF has interpreted this language to mean the date of the letter from the Special Master indicating the total loss amount calculated for a claim. The law also establishes that the date of the letter that is used to distinguish between Group A and Group B is the date “on or before the day before the date of enactment” of the reauthorization. Since the law was enacted on December 18, 2015, this means that December 17, 2015 is the date “on or before the day before the date of enactment.” Based on the law, this means that a claim is in Group A if the loss calculation letter for that claim was dated on or before December 17, 2015. Any claim that is not in Group A is automatically placed in Group B.

There are many reasons why a claim submitted a long time before the reauthorization may not have received a loss calculation letter dated on or before December 17, 2015. Each claim is unique, but in general, the claims that were submitted years before the reauthorization and did not have a loss calculation at that time had incomplete compensation forms, an eligibility issue that precluded compensation review, were missing required supporting documents that were not submitted with the claim, or have unique circumstances related to compensation that require additional research or third-party verification. We encourage you to review any correspondence you have received from the VCF to understand what may be needed in order to process your claim. You can also call the VCF Helpline to discuss your specific claim status.


e. How different is the Group B loss calculation methodology? Is there a cap on economic loss? (Added: June 15, 2016)

The reauthorization statute requires certain changes to the loss calculations for Group B claims. Most notably, the law does the following:

  • Caps non-economic loss that results from a cancer at $250,000.
  • Caps non-economic loss that does not result from a cancer at $90,000.
  • Instructs the Special Master to prioritize claims for victims who are determined by the Special Master to be suffering from the most debilitating physical conditions. The statute provides that such individuals should not be unduly burdened by procedures necessary to maintain the aggregate funding cap. The Special Master interprets this requirement to mean that the available funds should be prioritized for those with the most debilitating conditions. Therefore, non-economic loss awards for such claims will be at the higher end of the range of awards and non-economic awards for those with much less serious conditions will be at the lower end of the range of awards. This means the non-economic awards for victims with conditions that are less serious or less debilitating will be lower than they were under Group A. In some cases, typically involving milder conditions that have a limited effect on daily life, the non-economic award could be 50% lower. As always, the VCF will evaluate each claim individually and will take into account the individual circumstances and condition of the victim in determining the award.
  • For purposes of calculating economic loss, caps Annual Gross Income (“AGI”) at $200,000 for each year of loss. Annual Gross Income is defined in the Internal Revenue Code. This is a cap on the annual computation of loss.
  • Removes the $10,000 minimum award. The new statute requires the Special Master to compute the loss and then deduct any collateral offsets without applying any minimum award. As a result, some claimants will not receive an award because the amount of the offset exceeds the amount of loss.

We are updating our loss calculation models and will post a description of the revised methodology on our website once it is finalized.

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Section 2: New Claim Form


2.1 I started my claim using the old system or the old form. What happens to it now that the form and system have both changed? (Added: August 1, 2016)

If you previously submitted your Registration, Eligibility and/or Compensation form using the old system or the old hard copy claim form, your claim form information is in our system and you do not need to resubmit the information. You will be able to access your claim and see the information just as you have always been able to do.

However, if you started but did not submit any part of your claim in the online system, or if you submitted only part of the claim in hard copy, you will need to complete and submit the incomplete parts of your claim using the new form in order for our review to begin.

If you are using the online system, this guide provides information on the specific steps you should take based on the current status of your claim. For any section of the old form that was incomplete in the old system, the information you entered is still available for you to view and use as a reference when completing the new claim form. To view the information, click on the “View Documents” icon on your claim and click to open the file named “ClaimFormasofJuly2016.pdf.”

If you are filing a hard copy claim, you will need to complete and submit those sections of the new claim form that you have not already submitted using the old form.

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2.2 Do I now have to submit all parts of the claim form at the same time? (Added: August 1, 2016)

Yes. The new claim form has been simplified by incorporating all of the different versions of the old form into one, combined form. This means you must answer all of the questions specific to both Eligibility and Compensation before your form is considered to be submitted and ready for our review.

If you are submitting your claim online, you will need to complete all of the required questions in the Registration, Eligibility and Compensation sections of the system in order to submit your claim. You can start, save, and return to the form if needed. Although the system still shows the distinct sections of the form and an individual status for each section, you will not be able to submit your claim until you answer all of the required questions in all three sections.

If you are submitting a hard copy form, you will need to answer all of the applicable answers throughout the claim form in order for the VCF to properly enter your claim information into our system and begin our review.

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2.3 Once I submit my claim using the new form, when will it be processed? (Added: August 1, 2016)

Claims are reviewed in the order in which they are received. Once you submit your claim, we wait to receive your “Exhibit A – Authorization for Release of Medical Records,” which must be sent to the VCF as an original document, with your original signature. After the Exhibit A is received and confirmed to be complete, your claim will begin moving through the review process.

The VCF is still processing claims that were submitted under the old form and these claims will have priority over recent claim submissions. Once we begin review of your form, the status of your claim in the online system will show as “Under Review.”

Once our review begins, the VCF will contact you if any additional information is needed in order to render a decision on your claim.

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2.4 Why does the Document Checklist in my claim list all required documents and not just the ones that are applicable based on my claim form responses? (Added: September 9, 2016)

If you started your claim using the old claim form and submitted the Registration portion of your claim prior to August 1, 2016, your Document Checklist will show a generic listing of required documents. The dynamic, claim-specific document checklist tailored to your specific circumstances can only be generated for claims that are started and submitted using the new form. You can access the full Document Checklist from the “Claim Details” view in your online claim.

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2.5 How do I view my answers to the claim form questions once I submit my claim(Added: September 9, 2016)

Once you have logged into the system, follow the steps below to view the answers you submitted with your claim:

  • If you filed your claim after August 1, 2016 using the new claim form: Click the “paper and eye” icon in the far right column of the Summary Table. This will display all the completed questions and answers.
  • If you submitted all or part of your claim form prior to August 1, 2016: : Click on the “View Documents” icon and then the PDF file titled “ClaimFormasofJuly2016.pdf.” The PDF file will open and will include the completed questions and answers.
  • If you completed part of your form prior to August 1, 2016 and part of the form after that date: You will need to look in both locations as explained above to see all of your claim form answers.

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Section 3: Payment


3.1 What if my bank account or address has changed since my last payment?

If you have already received at least one payment from the VCF and your banking information has changed since the last payment was processed, you must complete and mail or fax a new Payment Information Form to the VCF as quickly as possible. If your address has changed, please call our Helpline for assistance in updating our records.

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3.2 How long can my attorney hold my payment before disbursing it to me? (Added: June 15, 2016)

It is the Special Master’s expectation that law firms will immediately disburse payments to their claimants once the money is deposited into the law firm account. The Special Master has communicated to the law firms that they are obligated to disburse payments in no more than 30 days. Under no circumstance should you wait longer than 30 days for your attorney to disburse the money after receiving the payment on your claim.

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Section 4: Registration


4.1 How do I register my claim with the VCF and what is my deadline? (Updated: September 9, 2016)

You must register with the VCF by the deadline that applies to your individual circumstances, as set forth in the table on page 2 of Registration and Claim Filing Deadlines. By timely registering your claim with the VCF, you preserve your right to file a claim with the VCF in the future, but no later than December 18, 2020

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4.2 If my Registration was incomplete and I need to start over, will this impact whether or not my claim is considered to have been timely registered by my applicable deadline? (Added: September 9, 2016)

If your Registration status was “Incomplete” prior to August 1, 2016 when the new claim form became available, you will need to create a new registration in the online system and you will receive a new VCF number. However, the information you previously entered in your original registration will still be stored in the system and the VCF will be able to see the data. When you submit your new registration and claim form, we will use the data from your original incomplete registration when determining the timeliness of your claim.

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Section 5: How Do I?


5.1 How do I add or change the attorney on my claim? (Added: September 9, 2016)

To add or change the attorney on your claim, you will need to provide the VCF with the information about your new attorney and complete and submit the Claim Form Signature Page to allow the VCF to communicate with your attorney about your claim. Your attorney will need to complete and submit Exhibit C if the law firm has not already submitted this document to the VCF.

Follow the steps below based on your specific situation to update the attorney information in your claim:

  • If you did not previously have an attorney associated with your claim and you are adding one for the first time, you can add the attorney’s name and contact information under “Claim Details.” Once you log in to your claim, click on the VCF number in the left-hand column of the Summary Table to access the Claim Details screen. Once you have added the information, call the VCF Helpline to request online access be granted to your claim for your attorney.
  • If you previously authorized the VCF to communicate with an attorney and you now want to revoke this authorization because the attorney no longer represents you, please call the VCF Helpline at 1-855-885-1555 so we can update the information in your claim. If needed, the Helpline can also help you access your online claim.

    If you would like to authorize the VCF to communicate with a new attorney, please have your new attorney’s name and contact information available when you call the Helpline.

If you submitted documents directing the VCF to pay your claim through your attorney, that instruction may not be changed after your award letter is issued. You may still remove or change the attorney associated with your claim for any future appeal or amendment. If your award is changed by that amendment or appeal and you submit new payment instructions by completing and submitting the Payment Instructions Change Form, then the new payment instructions will apply to the payment resulting from the amendment or appeal and all subsequent payments. Claimants should be aware that, regardless of how they receive payment from the VCF, they are liable for any agreement related to attorney fees as specified in the attorney-claimant contract.

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5.2 What is the WTC Health Program Disability Evaluation Process and how do I sign up for an evaluation? (Added: September 9, 2016)

The VCF has worked with the WTC Health Program to implement a disability evaluation process for victims who are disabled due to an eligible condition, but who do not have a determination of a total and permanent disability from some other source, such as the Social Security Administration, a state Workers’ Compensation program, or a private doctor or insurance company. This program provides a way for you to have a disability evaluation for purposes of your VCF claim.

This program is not for everyone. It is intended for victims who have partial or full disability due to an eligible condition but do not have, or cannot get, a disability determination from one of the standard third party entities. Victims who have a disability decision based on an ineligible condition may be candidates for the program if their eligible condition has become disabling.

Click here for complete details on the WTC Health Program Disability Evaluation Process, including how you can request that you be considered for an evaluation.

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5.3 If I already submitted my claim, how do I add a new condition for consideration? (Added: September 9, 2016)

You should amend your claim by following the guidance below based on your specific situation.

  • If the condition you want to add has been certified for treatment by the WTC Health Program: Submit your amendment by following these instructions. The VCF will contact the WTC Health Program to confirm the condition is eligible and will send you a revised Eligibility Decision letter with the outcome of our review.
  • If the condition you want to add is not being treated by the WTC Health Program: Submit your amendment by following these instructions. In addition to submitting your amendment, you will also need to submit a completed Private Physician package. These forms provide a way for the VCF to gather the required information about your treatment in order to process your claim. All forms and instructions are available on the VCF website under “Forms and Resources.” You should submit the completed Private Physician forms at the same time you submit your amendment. Once the VCF receives your amendment and the Private Physician package, we will review the information to determine if it provides the basis for a revised decision.

If you have already submitted your Compensation Form, the VCF may calculate the amount of your loss and issue your payment while still reviewing your request to add a new condition. If this should happen, the VCF will provide you with directions on how to amend your compensation claim based on the outcome of our review of your additional condition.

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