As of April 26, 2021
The VCF remains operational at this time, although we continue to experience delays in several areas of claims processing. Please read the information below, and continue to check this website for updates.
- VCF Helpline: The Helpline remains operational Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. We continue to receive higher than normal call volumes and appreciate your patience. Please do not leave a voicemail message for a call back unless you have a time-sensitive issue relating to your claim.
- Payment Processing: The Special Master understands the concerns many claimants may have about the impact on VCF payments. We continue to process payments each day and are coordinating with our partners to minimize any delays.
- Hearings: Out of concern for our vulnerable claimant population, in-person hearings remain suspended until further notice. If you appeal the decision on your claim, a VCF team member will contact you or your attorney (if applicable) regarding the next steps on your appeal. Compensation hearings are currently being conducted by telephone. Eligibility hearings are being conducted using video conferencing. Please wait to hear from the VCF about your hearing and do not call the Helpline with questions about hearings.
- Outgoing Correspondence: The VCF continues to generate letters on a daily basis, and electronic copies of each letter are uploaded to online claims daily. You can view all correspondence on your claim online through the claims system. If you do not have online access to your claim, please contact your attorney (if you are working with one), or call the VCF Helpline. You can find instructions here on how to view the correspondence uploaded to your claim.
- Printing and mailing of hardcopy letters generated since March 2020: As previously communicated, in March 2020, the VCF stopped printing and mailing hard copy letters due to safety precautions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whenever normal operations resume, we intended to print and mail copies of award letters, eligibility decision letters, and payment confirmation letters that were generated during this time. Given that the closure of our offices has lasted far longer than expected, and the fact that all letters are available in the online claim (and can be printed from the system), we have decided the following effective April 22, 2021:
- For claimants who are not working with an attorney: We have been periodically printing and mailing copies of award letters, eligibility decision letters, and payment confirmation letters for claimants who are not working with an attorney, and will continue to do so. You should check your online claim on a regular basis to be sure you do not miss important correspondence from the VCF. Please call our Helpline if you need assistance accessing your online claim or viewing correspondence.
- For claimants who are working with an attorney: Claimants who are represented by an attorney will be mailed a letter alerting them that correspondence was generated on their claim, with instructions to either view the letter in their online claim, or contact their attorney to request a copy of the letter if they have not already seen it. We will periodically mail these notification letters to claimants for whom an award letter, eligibility letter, or payment confirmation letter was previously generated.
- Deadlines: All deadlines included in letters remain in effect, with the following guidelines:
- Award Letters and Eligibility Decision letters:
- For claimants who are not working with an attorney: You may appeal your decision during the 30-day window outlined in the electronic version of the letter. If you do not appeal during this timeframe, you will have a new 30-day period to appeal when the hard copy letter is eventually mailed (see above information on Correspondence).
- For claimants who are working with an attorney: Effective for letters dated on or after April 22, 2021, you may only appeal your decision during the 30-day window outlined in the electronic version of the letter. This is to your benefit as it reduces delays in overall claims processing and payment as your claim moves into the appeals process sooner. For claimants who did not appeal on an uploaded version of a letter dated prior to April 22, 2021, and who were waiting for a printed letter in order to do so, please contact your attorney with any questions about a potential appeal. Your attorney may contact the VCF to request an appeal in your claim.
- Letters requesting Missing Information: We encourage you to try and meet the deadlines in letters requesting missing information as this is the best way to avoid delays in the processing of your claim. We realize you may not be able to obtain some documents during this time, and if the VCF makes a decision on your claim without the requested documents, you will have the ability to amend your claim to submit the information once you have it. The VCF will then review your amendment and notify you of the outcome of the review.
- Award Letters and Eligibility Decision letters:
- Incoming Mail: Although we are processing mail each day, we are doing so with limited staff in the office. As a result, we are experiencing delays in viewing mailed documents in the online claims system. You can help minimize these delays by uploading documents to your claim whenever possible, and only mailing those documents that the VCF requires to be originals.
We appreciate your patience as we continue to adjust to changes in our operations while protecting the health and safety of our employees during these challenging times.
Looking for information on how COVID-19 is impacting the World Trade Center Health Program (WTC Health Program)? The WTC Health Program is a separate program from the VCF. The latest updates from the WTC Health Program are available on the WTC Health Program COVID-19 page.