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Impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on VCF Operations, September 2021

As of September 15, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: 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.  Our website has instructions on how to view the correspondence uploaded to your claim.

    Between March 30, 2020, and September 8, 2021, the VCF was not routinely mailing hard copy letters, but continued to generate letters on a daily basis and electronic copies of letters were uploaded to online claims daily.  During this time, we periodically mailed copies of certain award letters and eligibility letters to claimants, and also mailed notification letters to alert them when important decision letters were uploaded to their claim.  If you received a letter in the mail from the VCF during the March 30, 2020, through September 8, 2021, timeframe, carefully review the letter to determine if you need to take any action.

    On September 9, 2021, the VCF resumed the daily mailing of hard copy letters to all claimants.  For letters dated September 9, 2021 or later, we will mail you a copy of any VCF letter that is uploaded to your claim.  The letter will be mailed on the date it is uploaded to the online system.   
    • NOTE for claimants who are working with an attorney: The VCF does not mail separate copies of letters addressed to attorneys.  Your attorney can view all the letters generated for your claim in the online system.  

      The VCF will continue to mail certain letters directly to attorneys, such as the written notification that a claimant has removed or changed their legal representation.
  • Deadlines: All deadlines included in letters remain in effect, with the following guidelines:
    • Award Letters and Eligibility Decision letters generated between March 30, 2020 and September 8, 2021
      • For claimants who are not working with an attorney: If you did not file an appeal during the 30-day window outlined in the electronic version of your letter, you may file an appeal within the 30-day period outlined in the hard copy of the letter that was mailed to you.  Please pay careful attention to the deadlines if you received a hard copy letter during this timeframe and it included an appeal form. 
      • For claimants who are working with an attorney: For letters dated between April 22, 2021* and September 8, 2021, you may only appeal your decision during the 30-day window outlined in the electronic version of the letter.  For claimants who did not appeal on an uploaded version of a letter dated prior to April 22, 2021, the VCF mailed you a notification letter with instructions to contact your attorney to discuss your appeal options.
        * In April of this year, the VCF posted an important update to our website about appeal deadlines that applied to letters dated on or after April 22, 2021. This information was also sent by email to attorneys representing VCF claimants.
  • Award Letters and Eligibility Decision letters dated on or after September 9, 2021: Claimants must file their appeal within the 30-day window outlined in the letter. The hard copy letter that you receive in the mail will have the same 30-day window as the electronic copy uploaded to your online claim.
    Appeal hearings will continue to be scheduled based on the order in which the appeal forms are received by the VCF.  Please see the "Hearings" section above for additional information.
  • Letters requesting Missing Information: We encourage you to meet the deadlines in letters requesting missing information as this avoids 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.

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.