The Frequently Asked Questions provide additional information about various aspects of the VCF. Click on each question to see the answer. All FAQs are translated and available in Spanish, Polish, and Chinese. Simply go directly to the appropriate FAQ page or visit the foreign language page for more information in your language of choice.
If you were in school or daycare at the time of 9/11, you may also find this list of FAQs helpful.
The VCF has detailed information on VCF policies and procedures. The resource 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: General Questions
1.1 I submitted my claim. What happens next?
Once you file your claim, the first step the VCF takes is to do a preliminary review to confirm that all of the “minimally required” documents have been submitted. In addition to a complete Claim Form, we require the following documents before your claim can move forward for a more substantive review:
- Claim Form Signature Page (or the equivalent sections from Part IV of the original VCF 2 claim form)
- Exhibit A – “Authorization for Release of Medical Information”
- Confirmation from the World Trade Center (“WTC") Health Program that you have at least one physical health condition certified for treatment (the VCF will contact the WTC Health Program directly to confirm you have an eligible certified condition; however, you may also upload your certification letter to your claim if you have it easily available)
- Proof of Presence documents as specified in Section 1.6 of the VCF Policies and Procedures
- VCF ACH Payment Information Form if payment on your claim will be deposited to your bank account
- VCF Client Authorization Form to deposit the payment on your claim to your attorney’s bank account (if applicable)
- Exhibit C – if represented by an attorney and the law firm does not already have an Exhibit C on file with the VCF
- In addition to the items above, the documents below are also required for deceased claims:
- Claim Form Appendix A (or Exhibit F to the old claim form)
- Letters of Administration and death certificate
These forms, along with other important resources to help you file your claim, can be found on the VCF "Forms and Resources" webpage.
If any of the above documents are missing or insufficient, the VCF will send you a missing information letter and place the claim in “Inactive” status. Once the required documents are received and verified as sufficient, the claim will be reactivated for review.
If the requested documents are not submitted within 30 days of the date of the missing information letter, your claim may be denied. If your claim is denied, you can amend your claim once you have the necessary documents and the VCF will reactivate your claim for review. Follow these instructions on how to file an amendment.
An overview of the VCF claim review process is available for more information.
1.2 I submitted my claim. When will a decision be made on my claim? - Updated
As a general rule, claims are reviewed in “first in, first out” order based on the date the Claim Form was submitted. This means the VCF prioritizes claims that have been waiting longer before beginning review of newer submissions. Claims are prioritized for review only after all required information has been submitted.
The VCF continues to work to shorten the timeframe needed to decide a claim and is working towards issuing determinations within one year of submission of the claim form or amendment (assuming all information needed to process the claim has been submitted).
The Claim Review Timeline graphic below reflects the most current status of claims in review. The dates in this timeline apply only to claims that are submitted in good order, meaning they have the required documents the VCF needs in order to determine the claimant’s eligibility and calculate the award. Claims that are made inactive or placed on hold because they were not submitted with the required documents take significantly longer to review and are not reflected in this timeline.
Please remember that each VCF claim is individually reviewed and calculated, with some of the more complex claims taking significantly longer to complete. This is particularly true of claims filed for victims who died of a 9/11-related condition, which require the submission and review of a substantial amount of information and documentation in order to validate the legal authority of the Personal Representative who filed the claim, and to calculate the award. Claims may also be delayed while the VCF waits for information from third parties.
Once the VCF begins reviewing your claim, we will contact you if we need any additional information. The best way to help speed the review of your claim is to submit a complete claim and respond promptly to any request.
1.3 Are there any circumstances under which the review of my claim can be accelerated?
Yes. In cases involving terminal illness or significant financial hardship, you can request that the VCF expedite the processing of your claim. The VCF considers “significant financial hardship” to include an imminent or pending foreclosure or eviction proceeding, utility cut off, or other similar circumstances, as demonstrated by appropriate documentation. If you want to seek expedited processing of your claim based on a terminal diagnosis or financial hardship, you or your attorney (if you are working with one for your VCF claim) must contact the VCF Helpline at 1-855-885-1555 and upload any appropriate documentation to your claim. You also must submit a complete claim form and all required supporting documents so the VCF has the information needed to process your claim. If you are represented by an attorney for your VCF claim, you should seek your attorney’s assistance. The VCF will review the request and notify you as to whether the request is granted or denied, typically within 48 hours. In claims that are approved for expedited processing, assuming all required documents have been submitted, the VCF can often process the claim, issue the award, and process the payment in as little as 3-4 weeks. In these instances, payment on the claim is issued as soon as the award letter is sent, but you retain your right to appeal within the 30-day appeal period.
1.4 Do I need a lawyer to file a claim?
No, you do not need an attorney to file a VCF claim, and there is no priority given to claims submitted by an attorney over those without an attorney. We evaluate all claims following the same guidelines and calculate all awards using the same methodology, regardless of whether an attorney is assisting with the claim. We have a number of resources available to assist individuals with filing a claim, including a toll-free Helpline with bilingual representatives, and interpreters available for any language. The Helpline can answer questions about the claims process, help you fill out the claim form, and explain the supporting documents you must submit with your claim. You can call for general information, or you can make an appointment to work with a Helpline representative to complete and submit your claim. If you decide to hire an attorney to help you with your claim, the law limits the fee the attorney may charge you. Attorneys are not allowed to charge more than 10% of the amount of your VCF award.
1.5 How do I add or change the attorney on my claim?
To add, change, or remove the attorney on your claim, follow the instructions on the Change of Attorney Form and upload the completed and signed form to your claim. Once the VCF receives the completed form and any required documents, we will make the appropriate updates to your claim, including who receives correspondence and who is able to access the claim online.
You should not submit a new registration or claim simply for purposes of changing your attorney. This applies even if your existing claim has already been decided or paid and you intend to amend it to add a new condition or to seek additional compensation. Once you submit the Change of Attorney Form, the VCF will update your existing claim and your new attorney will be able to submit any amendments or documents on your behalf.
1.6 What types of documents can I submit to prove I was present at eligible location?
There are many different types of documents that can be used to demonstrate presence at eligible location. Full details of the most common types of documents are outlined in Section 1.6 of our Policies and Procedures and the Claim Form Document Checklist (Personal Injury or Deceased Claim). In addition, the VCF has arrangements with certain employers, unions, and other organizations that have agreed to provide presence information directly to the VCF or have provided contact information so that a claimant can request information to support presence. See Section 1.6.b of the Policies and Procedures document for a full list of the employers and entities with whom this relationship currently exists.
1.7 What happens if a victim passes away after filing a personal injury claim?
When a claimant who has filed a personal injury claim dies, the VCF will stop processing the claim and/or payment of that claim until a Personal Representative of the deceased claimant (“decedent”) is appointed and validated by the VCF. This protects the decedent’s personal information and ensures details about the claim are shared only with those who are authorized to access the information.
When the VCF learns that a claimant has passed away, we will send a letter to the decedent’s last known address that explains the current status of the personal injury claim, and the steps that need to be taken in order for the VCF to continue processing a claim for the decedent. Each claim has unique circumstances, so please review the correspondence you receive from the VCF and contact the VCF Helpline if you are uncertain how to proceed with the claim.
The VCF website includes detailed information about the processing of these claims.
1.8 If an individual with an eligible 9/11-related illness passes away, and the death certificate lists COVID-19 as the cause of death, will this affect the VCF’s evaluation of a wrongful death claim filed on the victim’s behalf?
The law that governs the VCF requires that, in order to be eligible for compensation, the victim must have suffered physical harm or death as a result of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or the debris removal efforts in the immediate aftermath of those attacks. The VCF generally looks at the victim’s death certificate to see what is listed as the cause of death.
The standard death certificate form (consistent with CDC guidance) includes three (3) separate categories where causes can be listed:
- Immediate cause of death,
- Underlying causes of death (i.e., the condition that the immediate cause of death was due to or a consequence of), and
- Significant conditions contributing to death.
If a 9/11-related physical health condition that is eligible for VCF compensation is listed in any of those three (3) categories then, generally, the VCF will consider the death to have been caused by the eligible condition and will award wrongful death compensation. If the VCF-eligible condition is not listed, then we will need medical evidence that draws the connection for us, and demonstrates how the VCF-eligible condition resulted in the death. For example, if the death certificate states that the immediate cause of death was an infection – pneumonia, for example, or sepsis – then we will look to see if the VCF-eligible condition is listed as an underlying cause of death or a condition contributing to death. If it is, then, generally, the VCF will compensate for the death. If the VCF-eligible condition is not listed, then, generally, we will need additional medical evidence that draws the connection and demonstrates how the VCF-eligible condition contributed to or resulted in the death.
Note, however, that the VCF reviews each individual claim based on its own facts. For this reason, there may be circumstances in particular claims that support a change from these generally applicable policies.
1.9 What if my current name is different from the name on documents in support of my claim? For example, my married name is different from my name at the time of 9/11, as shown on my high school or college transcript used for proof of presence. What if my name changed since the time I registered or filed my claim?
You should provide one of the following documents based on your circumstances:
- If your name as shown in your claim form and online claim is correct, but it is different from the name on the documents you are submitting to support your claim, you should upload a letter explaining the name change and provide one of the documents listed below to show proof of the change.
- If your name has changed since you registered or filed your claim with the VCF, you should complete a Claim Information Resolution Form noting the change and submit one of the documents listed below to show proof of the name change. You can upload these documents to your claim.
The document(s) you submit to show your name change must include:
(1) The name associated with your VCF claim and/or the name on the documents you are submitting to support your claim; and
(2) Your new name.
You should provide one of the following documents based on your circumstances: court order, marriage certificate, divorce decree/order, or other legal documents that support the name change. The VCF does not require originals – you may upload the document(s) to your online claim.
1.10 Can I pursue a claim with both the VCF and the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund (“USVSST Fund”)?
Yes, however, the VCF is required by law to offset any benefit paid by other collateral sources relating to the 9/11 attacks. As a result, USVSST Fund payments made to victims who are also eligible for compensation from the VCF, will be subject to offset by the VCF. To be clear, the VCF is required to offset USVSST Fund payments made on account of 9/11-related injuries to the same victim.
For more information, refer to Section 3.9 of the VCF’s Policies and Procedures.
1.11 If I participate in a lawsuit under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), can I still file a VCF claim?
Yes, if you participate in a lawsuit under JASTA, you can still file a VCF claim. See Section 405(c)(3)(C)(i), Zadroga Act, as amended (49 U.S.C. § 40101 note). Any compensation awarded by the court in the lawsuit or obtained in a settlement of litigation will be treated as an offset and deducted from your VCF award.
Please remember that you must inform the VCF of any new collateral source payments you receive, or become entitled to receive, after your claim has been filed – including after any award has been determined or paid – until the VCF closes on October 1, 2090. You should report any new collateral source payments using the Collateral Offset Update Form.
1.12 I think that a product manufacturer or a doctor contributed to, caused, or exacerbated my 9/11-related condition (or contributed to or caused the death of a deceased victim). Can I sue the manufacturer or the doctor and still participate in the VCF? - New
No. A lawsuit against a product manufacturer for product liability, or against a doctor for medical malpractice, is based on the legal theory that it was the product or the doctor that caused, contributed to, or exacerbated the 9/11-related condition. These types of lawsuits fall within the terms of the lawsuit waiver set out in the statute under which the VCF operates. This means that in order to be eligible for compensation, when you file your VCF claim, you must waive your right to participate in these types of lawsuits and must meet the settlement and dismissal deadlines set forth in Section 1.3 of the VCF’s Policies and Procedures.
Please be aware that any action to settle a lawsuit is particularly discouraged, as the VCF is a litigation alternative program. If you settle a lawsuit to which the waiver applies after the applicable deadline, you will not be eligible for VCF compensation, even if you had not been diagnosed or certified with the covered condition at the time you filed or settled the lawsuit. While the VCF can make exceptions where there is an untimely lawsuit dismissal in appropriate cases, it cannot, consistent with its statutory requirements, make exceptions in the case of untimely settlements.
Section 2: Registration and Other Deadlines
2.1 What deadlines do I need to meet when filing my VCF claim?
There are two deadlines in the claim filing process – the first is the Registration Deadline and the second is the Claim Filing Deadline. Registration is not the same as filing a claim and the deadline varies according to claim type and individual circumstances. To understand what is applicable to your situation, please see detailed information about the VCF’s Registration Deadlines.
The Claim Filing Deadline is the same for everyone: October 1, 2090.
The VCF website has helpful information on How to Register and File a Claim.
2.2 What is registration? How do I register with the VCF and what is my registration deadline?
Registration is the first step in the claim filing process and it simply preserves your right to file a claim in the future. You do not waive any legal rights when you register, and registering does not obligate you to file a claim. Registration serves only to alert the VCF that you may be a potential claimant; and it meets the legal requirement of timeliness set forth in the law. Registration Deadlines vary based on claim type and individual circumstances.
Although registration does not obligate you to file a claim in the future, if you do file a claim, you must have registered with the VCF by your applicable Registration Deadline in order to be eligible for compensation. For this reason, we encourage everyone to register now even if you are not sick or have not yet been diagnosed with a 9/11-related condition or certified by the WTC Health Program. This way, you do not have to worry about registering should you become sick in the future.
This step-by-step guide explains how to register with the VCF. You can register using the online system or you can register over the phone by calling the VCF Helpline at 1-855-885-1555.
2.3 Do I need to have my condition(s) certified for treatment by the WTC Health Program before I can register with the VCF?
No, you do not need to be certified for treatment by the WTC Health Program in order to register with the VCF. You can register at any time – either online, or by calling our Helpline at 1-855-885-1555, so long as you do so before your Registration Deadline. Registering with the VCF preserves your right to file a claim, either now or at some point in the future.
2.4 What if I’m not sick, can I still register? (Added: July 30, 2021) - New
Yes. You can register with the VCF at any time – either online, or by calling our Helpline at 1-855-885-1555. By registering, you preserve your right to file a claim in the future. Although registration does not obligate you to file a claim in the future, if you do file a claim, you must have registered with the VCF by your applicable Registration Deadline in order to be eligible for compensation. For this reason, we encourage everyone to register now even if you are not sick. This way, you do not have to worry about registering should you become sick in the future.
2.5 I heard the deadline to register with the VCF was July 29, 2021. What happens if I register with the VCF after July 29, 2021?
If you register with the VCF after July 29, 2021, your registration will be considered timely as long as you meet your applicable Registration Deadline.
The July 29, 2021, deadline only applied to certain individuals who missed an earlier deadline.
2.6 How do I know if I am registered with the VCF and have met my registration deadline?
If you are not sure whether you are registered with the VCF, or if you have questions related to Registration Deadlines, please call the VCF Helpline at 1-855-885-1555 for assistance.
2.7 Once I have registered, what is the deadline to file my claim?
While Registration Deadlines vary depending on claim type and individual circumstances, the deadline to file a claim is the same for everyone. Your claim must be filed by October 1, 2090.
Once you have registered with the VCF, you should file your claim only after you have been certified by the WTC Health Program for a 9/11-related physical health condition. This could happen any time between now and when the WTC Health Program closes in 2090. If you file your claim without first being certified, the VCF will place your claim in Inactive status and it will remain in that status and will not be reviewed until you submit your certification letter. See FAQ 3.3 for further details.
The VCF encourages you to file your claim after you have been certified and the full scope of your losses are known so that we can review your claim as quickly as possible to evaluate your eligibility for compensation.
Section 3: WTC Health Program
3.1 Is the WTC Health Program part of the VCF?
No, the VCF and the WTC Health Program are two separate programs, each of which has its own registration process, eligibility criteria, and mission. The WTC Health Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and provides medical monitoring and treatment for responders to the WTC and related sites in New York City, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, PA; and for survivors who were in the WTC Health Program’s New York City Disaster Area during the required timeframe. The VCF is administered by the U.S Department of Justice and provides financial compensation for those who have been diagnosed with an eligible 9/11-related illness, and who meet the VCF’s eligibility criteria. Enrollment in the WTC Health Program does not register you with the VCF or file a claim on your behalf.
3.2 Does the VCF receive copies of my medical records from the WTC Health Program? Do I need to submit them with my claim?
The VCF does not receive copies of your medical records as part of our information-sharing agreement with the WTC Health Program. The WTC Health Program only provides the VCF with information that is used to determine whether you have an eligible, certified condition. The information we receive from the WTC Health Program includes the name of the condition, the WTC Health Program category under which the condition falls (for example, Cancer or Upper Respiratory Disorder), and the associated medical diagnosis code. If the WTC Health Program notifies us that you have been certified for an eligible physical health condition, we accept that certification as proof of your eligible condition.
If the WTC Health Program has certified your condition, you do not need to submit medical records to support a claim for non-economic loss at the lowest end of the range for your eligible condition. Similarly, if you have an eligible condition the VCF has identified as presumptively severe and debilitating, you do not need to submit medical records to qualify for the highest non-economic loss award allowed by the statutory caps. Section 2.1.a – “Valuation of non-economic loss” – in the VCF Policies and Procedures includes a listing of conditions considered to be presumptively severe.
If, however, your certified condition is not among the list of conditions that the VCF considers to be presumptively severe and it significantly impairs activities of daily living, or if the certification does not reflect the severity of the condition, you may want to submit recent (i.e. within three years of the date your compensation claim was submitted) records related to your condition to help the VCF evaluate the severity and effect of the condition in order to determine whether an increased non-economic loss award within the appropriate range is warranted.
If you submit medical records in support of your claim, you do not have to submit all of your medical records. A document from your physician summarizing the medical history of your condition and treatment will often be sufficient to prove the extent of your non-economic loss.
3.3 I scheduled my appointment with the WTC Health Program but they told me it may take several months to be seen and to then receive a certification letter. Should I file my claim even though I have not yet been certified?
It is best to wait to file your claim until you have been certified by the WTC Health Program. If you submit your claim without first being certified, the VCF will place your claim in Inactive status and it will remain in that status and will not be reviewed until you submit your certification letter.
3.4 The WTC Health Program announced the addition of Uterine Cancer to the list of covered cancer conditions effective January 18, 2023. Can I receive compensation for my Uterine Cancer if it is newly certified by the WTC Health Program and I already filed a VCF claim? - New
Yes. As of January 18, 2023, all Uterine Cancers, including endometrial cancers, have been added to the List of WTC-related Health Conditions, and are therefore eligible for compensation from the VCF, as long as all other eligibility requirements are met.
If your claim was previously denied because you did not have an eligible condition, and your Uterine or endometrial cancer is certified by the WTC Health Program, you may amend your claim. The VCF will review the new information and notify you of the outcome of our review.
If you have already been awarded compensation for other eligible conditions, and you are now certified for any type of Uterine or endometrial cancer, you may amend your claim to seek additional compensation related to the cancer.
See FAQ Section 5 for details on how to amend your claim.
3.5 What if I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer in the past, but the cancer has not yet been certified by the WTC Health Program? Am I eligible for compensation from the VCF? - New
Yes, but to receive compensation from the VCF, you must first have the condition certified by the WTC Health Program. This is required even if you do not need treatment for the cancer at this time. To begin the certification process with the WTC Health Program, you can find more information online at https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/uterineCancer_20230118.html or by calling 1-888-982-4748.
Once your Uterine Cancer is certified by the WTC Health Program, you should file your claim, or amend your existing claim, to add the cancer as an eligible condition. The VCF website has detailed instructions on how to file a new claim or amend (See FAQ 5.1) a previously-filed claim. The VCF will review your claim and notify you of the outcome of our review.
3.6 I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer before it was added to the WTC Health Program’s list of covered cancer conditions, and I paid out-of-pocket medical expenses related to treatment for the cancer. Will the VCF reimburse me for these medical expenses? - New
Yes, as long as you meet the VCF requirements for reimbursement of these expenses. You may claim reimbursement from the VCF if you paid out-of-pocket expenses related to your Uterine Cancer before the date that the WTC Health Program certified the condition for treatment. The VCF has specific requirements for claiming medical expense reimbursement. See FAQ 6.5 for further details.
3.7 My family member passed away but was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer before she died. I believe the Uterine Cancer was related to her 9/11 exposure, but it was not a condition on the WTC Health Program list of covered conditions prior to her death. Now that the condition has been added, can I file a claim for compensation for the cancer? How do I prove the cancer was related to 9/11 if she cannot go to the WTC Health Program to get certified? - New
Yes, the authorized Personal Representative of the deceased victim may file a claim seeking compensation for the Uterine Cancer, as long as all other VCF eligibility requirements are met. Because the decedent cannot go to the WTC Health Program to have the condition certified, the Uterine Cancer will be verified through the VCF Private Physician Process. The authorized Personal Representative will need to complete and submit the Private Physician forms and required documents so the condition can be evaluated to determine if it can be verified as related to 9/11. Details and instructions regarding the Private Physician Process can be found here: https://www.vcf.gov/private-physician-process.
In addition to completing the Private Physician forms, the Personal Representative will also need to file a claim on the victim’s behalf seeking compensation related to the cancer, or amend a previously-filed claim, depending on the specific circumstances as outlined below:
- If the victim filed a personal injury claim with the VCF prior to death, follow these instructions: https://www.vcf.gov/resources/when-claimant-passes-away-after-filing-personal-injury-claim.
- If a deceased claim has been filed for the victim, and the claim has already been approved based on other eligible conditions, the Personal Representative may amend the deceased claim to seek additional compensation related to the cancer.
- If a claim of any type has not previously been filed for the victim, and the victim’s cause of death is believed to be related to an eligible 9/11 condition (including Uterine Cancer if verified through the Private Physician process), the authorized Personal Representative will need to file a deceased claim on the victim’s behalf.
- If a claim of any type has not previously been filed for the victim, and the victim’s cause of death is not believed to be related to an eligible 9/11 condition, the authorized Personal Representative will need to file a personal injury claim on the victim’s behalf to seek compensation for losses associated with the eligible condition(s) prior to death.
Section 4: Appeals
4.1 How do I appeal the decision on my claim?
An appeal can be filed within 30 days after the VCF has notified you of the eligibility or compensation decision on your claim. You may appeal only if your eligibility denial letter or award letter includes an Appeal Request Form.
If you appeal the award decision on your claim, except in cases where a claim is approved for expedited processing, any payment due will not be processed until your hearing is held and a decision is rendered on your appeal.
If you intend to appeal the decision on your claim, there are specific steps you must take and specific deadlines that apply. Your eligibility denial or award letter will include detailed information about how to appeal the decision.
4.2 What should I do if I do not intend to appeal the decision on my claim?
If you do not intend to appeal, you do not need to do anything. If the VCF sent you an award letter, the 30-day appeal window will expire and the VCF will then process any applicable payment on your claim. If you received a letter notifying you that your claim was denied, it will remain in that status. If in the future you have new information to submit to the VCF that you believe may change the eligibility decision on your claim, you may amend your claim.
4.3 When should I amend my claim and when should I appeal?
You should appeal if you are challenging the VCF’s determination on your claim.
You should amend if you are seeking a new determination based on new information.
If you file a compensation appeal, your claim will not be paid until after a decision is made on your appeal. If you file an eligibility appeal, compensation review will not start until after a decision is made on your appeal. The only circumstance in which a claim will be paid while under appeal is if the claimant has been approved for expedited status after meeting the applicable criteria. In all cases, filing an amendment will not affect payment on the original determination.
When considering whether to appeal or to amend, consider whether you are waiving or compromising a particular claim or argument by accepting payment on the original determination and choosing to pursue an amendment rather than an appeal. The VCF has discretion to determine whether an issue submitted on appeal is more appropriately addressed via amendment. Note that in deceased claims (i.e., a claim filed on behalf of a victim who died as a result of his or her 9/11-related condition), you will not be able to amend your claim except in limited circumstances.
You should not appeal the decision on your claim as a way to seek a faster review of an amendment that is unrelated to the decision already made. Appeals filed solely for purposes of seeking consideration of an amendment on an unrelated issue are invalid. If you file an appeal for this reason, you will be notified that your appeal has been cancelled and your right to appeal the determination has been waived. If an award determination has been made, your claim will proceed to payment. If an award determination has not been made, the new information may be reviewed as an amendment.
Detailed information about how this applies to eligibility and compensation determinations, including specific examples, is available in the Amendments and Appeals Overview document and on the VCF’s Forms and Resources webpage.
Section 5: Amendments
5.1 If I am certified for a new condition by the WTC Health Program after my award was issued, or if I have a new loss, can I amend my application?
Yes, you can amend your personal injury claim to add a new condition or to claim a new loss at any time prior to October 1, 2090. You can find complete instructions on How to File an Amendment under “Forms and Resources” on our website. In a deceased claim (i.e., claims filed on behalf of a victim who died as a result of his or her 9/11-related eligible condition), you will not be permitted to amend your claim after the VCF finalizes substantive review of the compensation claim (with limited exceptions). Additional information specific to amendments for deceased claims can be found in Section 5 of the VCF Policies and Procedures document.
The VCF will review the information you submit with your amendment and will notify you of the outcome of our review. If the VCF finds you eligible for compensation for the new condition and you are seeking additional loss related to the condition, you must also file a compensation amendment.
Please note: the amount of your VCF non-economic loss award is not based on the number of certified conditions you have, but rather on the severity and impact of those conditions on your daily life. In many cases, being found eligible for additional conditions will not change the amount of your VCF award unless the new condition is a cancer and the compensation already awarded was based only on non-cancer conditions.
There are certain situations when amending your claim will not result in a change to your award. Listed below are examples to consider before filing an amendment.
- Amendments seeking additional non-economic loss: Except in limited circumstances, if you already received a non-economic loss award at the statutory cap ($90,000 for non-cancer conditions and $250,000 for cancer), claiming a new condition will not change your non-economic loss award. You may file an eligibility amendment to add the new condition and the VCF will determine if it is considered eligible, but you should not file a compensation amendment to seek additional non-economic loss. The limited circumstances in which the VCF may award additional non-economic loss include if you are claiming a cancer where one was not previously considered in the award or if you were previously compensated for a cancer and are claiming a non-cancer condition that the Special Master has identified as presumptively severe and debilitating, as listed in Section 2.1(a) of the VCF Policies and Procedures document.
- Amendments on claims with large collateral offsets: If your initial award determination was reduced by collateral offsets, you should consider whether these offsets will exceed the new loss you are seeking. If your offsets are substantially higher than the loss you are claiming through the amendment, the amendment will not result in a change to your net total award. For example, if you received a $350,000 settlement payment from a 9/11-related lawsuit, and are only seeking additional non-economic loss, you should not file an amendment as the non-economic loss awarded will not exceed the amount of this offset.
If you are represented by an attorney and are unsure whether your amendment will result in a substantial change in your award, we encourage you to discuss the amendment with your attorney. If you are not represented, the VCF Helpline can assist you in deciding whether to submit the amendment.
For more detailed information on how the VCF calculates awards, see the VCF Policies and Procedures.
5.2 Why does the VCF not accept amendments on deceased claims when it does allow amendments on other claims?
Unlike in a personal injury claim, where the victim is still living, the circumstances of a deceased claim filed do not change. Therefore, all losses in a deceased claim should be known to the claimant at the time the initial claim is filed. It is far more efficient for the VCF, and increases the pace at which the VCF can issue awards to all claimants, if the VCF only has to review these claims, with all losses included, one time.
5.3 I amended my compensation claim. When will a decision be made?
Our first priority is to render decisions on claims for those claimants who have not yet received any award. At the same time, we do continue to review amendments and use the same priority order of rendering decisions on older amendments before reviewing newer ones.
How we prioritize the review of an amendment depends on whether we have already made payment on the claim. As a general rule, an amendment on a claim that has not yet been decided (meaning the claimant has not received any award determination) will not change its priority status. We are basing the priority on the date the compensation form was submitted (see FAQ 1.2).
For claims that have already received an award determination, our priority order relates to the date of submission of the amendment, and not back to the original compensation form submission date. So, as a general rule, it is better for claimants (and will allow us to consider claims as a whole rather than piecemeal), if amendments are made while the claim is under consideration rather than after an award is already made.
Section 6: Compensation and Payment
6.1 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 at 1-855-885-1555 for assistance in updating our records.
6.2 How long can my attorney hold my payment before disbursing it to me?
It is the Special Master’s expectation that law firms will disburse payments to their claimants within 30 days of the money being deposited into the law firm account.
6.3 When can I expect to receive payment and will the payment be pro-rated?
The VCF does not pro-rate payments. Your claim will be paid in full for the calculated loss amount at the time the payment is processed.
The timing of your payment depends on whether or not you appeal your award:
- If you do not appeal the award decision on your claim, the VCF will begin processing your payment once the 30-day appeal period ends. Once the VCF begins processing the payment, it may take up to 20 days for the Special Master to authorize the payment. The payment then gets processed by the Department of Justice and the Treasury Department, which may take up to 3 weeks. This means your payment should be issued to the designated bank account within 3 months from the date of your award letter. This is a general estimate, and your payment may be processed faster.
- If you appeal the award decision on your claim, the VCF will not begin processing your payment until a decision is made on your appeal. The payment process starts once the VCF sends you the letter notifying you of the outcome of your appeal. Once the VCF begins processing the payment, it may take up to 20 days for the Special Master to authorize the payment. The payment then gets processed by the Department of Justice and the Treasury Department, which may take up to 3 weeks. This means your payment should be issued to the designated bank account within 1-1/2 months from the date of your post-appeal decision letter.
6.4 Are disability payments from other sources (such as Veterans Affairs, NYCERs, etc.) deducted from my award?
Yes, if the payments are related to your disability from an eligible 9/11-related condition. The statute requires that the VCF offset from your award any disability benefits you are receiving, or entitled to receive, related to your eligible physical health conditions. If you are receiving disability payments for conditions that are not eligible under the VCF, those amounts will not be deducted from your award.
6.5 Can I get reimbursed for medical expenses that I paid out-of-pocket and were not covered by the WTC Health Program or reimbursed by my insurance?
Yes. You can request reimbursement for past out-of-pocket medical expenses you paid as a result of your eligible condition(s) if they were paid before the date that the WTC Health Program certified your condition(s). The VCF will not reimburse for expenses you incur after your condition was certified if you decide to have your conditions treated by a non-WTC Health Program physician, or to have your prescriptions filled by an unaffiliated pharmacy.
Because claims for reimbursement of out-of-pocket medical expenses require the submission and review of significant documentation establishing that the claimed medical expense was related to your eligible condition and that you personally paid for the expense out of pocket, processing these claims takes time and can delay your award. As a result, the VCF has established specific criteria about when and how you should submit your claim for medical expenses.
- In a personal injury claim, the claim for medical expenses must be submitted as a compensation amendment to your claim and only after you have received your initial award determination. This allows the VCF to issue your initial award determination more quickly, since we are not spending time during our initial review to verify each claimed medical expense.
- In a deceased claim, the claim for medical expenses must be submitted as part of your initial claim. This is because for deceased claims, you generally will not be permitted to amend your claim after the VCF finalizes substantive review of the compensation claim.
- The total amount of the claimed medical expenses due to eligible conditions must exceed $5,000.
- The claim must be submitted with the required documentation and in the required format as explained in these instructions.
The Special Master may exercise discretion to waive one or more of these requirements as appropriate based on individual claimant circumstances. If you wish to seek a waiver, please contact the VCF Helpline at 1-855-885-1555.
Section 7: Private Physician Process
7.1 Who should complete the online Private Physician forms?
You should only complete the online Private Physician forms if you meet the criteria for the Private Physician process. If you do not meet the criteria for the Private Physician process, you should answer “No” to any questions that ask about treatment by a physician not affiliated with the WTC Health Program. You should also answer “No” if the system displays the question that asks if you are ready to provide information regarding the Private Physician process. Answering “No” to these questions will prevent the Private Physician questions from being displayed in the system.
7.2 Is the Private Physician Process available to victims who died of an ineligible condition and are claiming personal injury losses? For example, if a WTC survivor died of a heart attack, yet had suffered asthma and GERD while living, had treatment with private doctors only, and had never been a member of the WTC Health Program, can the estate seek verification of an eligible condition through the Private Physician process or are they unable to become eligible for a VCF personal injury award?
The Private Physician process would be available in this situation so that the claimant could pursue a personal injury claim. The process remains available for deceased individuals who were not certified for treatment for the claimed condition prior to death.
7.3 How do I request consideration for an exception to the Private Physician criteria? What do I need to submit if I want to claim a substantial hardship exception?
In order to request an exception to the Private Physician criteria, you must show that you will suffer significant hardship in having your condition evaluated and certified for treatment by the WTC Health Program, either in the New York City metropolitan area or through the Nationwide Provider Network.
If you believe you will suffer significant hardship in seeking certification by the WTC Health Program, you should upload a statement or letter to your claim explaining the circumstances and why you should be considered for the Private Physician process and then call the VCF Helpline to alert us to the request. Once your request is reviewed and a decision is made about whether to grant the request, a member of our Helpline team will call you to notify you of the decision. If we determine that you are an appropriate candidate for the Private Physician process, once we call to notify you of that decision, you should complete and submit a Private Physician packet and the supporting documents.
7.4 I live outside the continental Unites States. Do I need to go to the WTC Health Program to have my condition certified for treatment?
No. As a foreign resident, living outside the U.S., you are able to have your conditions verified through our Private Physician process. You should complete the Private Physician forms either as part of your online claim submission or by using the forms on our website. The VCF will work directly with the WTC Health Program to verify your condition(s) as eligible for compensation.
If you have questions about your particular situation, please contact the Helpline at 1-855-885-1555.