Messages from the Special Master
It has been a true honor to serve as interim Special Master for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”). This is an important mission and an incredible team that works hard every day to serve those who are suffering illnesses stemming from the terrorist attacks perpetrated over 20 years ago. It has been my goal to ensure continuity during the search and hiring of a permanent Special Master so that the good work of this team continued without delay, and I hope I have met that goal.
The VCF completed its 11th year of operation in 2022, a year that brought with it measurable progress, continued challenges, and notable transitions – the most significant of which was the departure of Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya in April 2022, after nearly six years of dedicated and extraordinary service at the VCF, and 27 years with the Department of Justice. Rupa’s far-reaching contributions will continue to benefit the 9/11 community for years to come, and she has my deepest gratitude for her service to this community.
It is an honor to step into the role of Special Master on an interim basis while the process to identify Rupa Bhattacharyya’s permanent successor is identified. I have been a career civil service attorney with the Department of Justice since 1998, and have managed several Civil Division components for temporary periods, including the branch that has responsibility over the operations of the VCF. In that capacity, I’ve worked with Rupa to help address issues that arise in the management of the VCF and am familiar with its functions and operation. I look forward to working with the VCF aga
Kimberly (Kim) C. Brown has joined the VCF as the Director of Operations. In this new position, Kim will focus on overseeing the VCF’s day-to-day operations in areas such as the Helpline and the processing of hard copy mail, identifying opportunities for innovation as the VCF continues to move into its long-term status stemming from the passage of the VCF Permanent Authorization Act.
The VCF successfully navigated another highly productive year in 2021, in a year that saw not one but two significant anniversaries: the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Zadroga Act, which created in the VCF, in January, and then the solemn reminder months later that twenty years have passed since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
While it is impossible to review the past year without mention of the enormous challenges presented by COVID-19, and its particularly severe impact on the 9/11 community, I am proud to report that the VCF’s work on their behalf continued with almost no disruption throughout 2020.
Dear Friends: I wanted to reach out directly and clarify some confusion that has arisen in recent days about September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) deadlines.
There are two deadlines in the VCF’s claim filing process: a Claim Filing Deadline and a Registration Deadline. It is important to distinguish between the two and be aware of which applies to your individual circumstances.
This has been a year of many challenges, and significant changes for the VCF, greatest among them the July passage of the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act (“VCF Permanent Authorization Act”), which secured the VCF’s funding for claims and amendments filed through 2090 (see page 5). This year also saw the departure of Deputy Special Master Jordy Feldman, who left the VCF after more than 10 years of superb and dedicated service.
It is with regret and pride that I announce that Deputy Special Master and Director of the New York Office, Jordana (“Jordy”) H. Feldman, has left the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund ("VCF") to accept a position to design and administer a proposed claims resolution program intended to help victims of sexual assault resolve their claims through a confidential, non-adversarial alternative to litigation.
Today’s program statistics report for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) reflects steady progress: as of August 31, 2019, we have made awards to 23,850 individuals, some more than once due to an amendment or appeal, totaling almost $5.6 billion in awards.
On July 29, 2019, President Trump signed into law H.R. 1327, The Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund ("VCF"). The VCF Permanent Authorization Act extends the VCF’s claim filing deadline from December 18, 2020, to October 1, 2090, and appropriates such funds as may be necessary to pay all approved claims.
On June 11, 2019, the Special Master testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on The Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties with regard to H.R. 1327, legislation to permanently extend authorization for the VCF. View her full testimony.
When Congress reauthorized the VCF in 2015, it extended the time for individuals to submit new claims – as well as amendments on existing claims – until December 18, 2020. The Reauthorization Act also directed me, as the Special Master, to periodically reassess the VCF’s policies and procedures to make sure that we prioritize claims for individuals who suffer from the most debilitating physical conditions, and that we do not exceed the $7.375 billion in funds appropriated to the VCF.
When I stepped into the role of Special Master two years ago, I was focused on our number one priority: to process and pay claims with thoughtful consideration and without unnecessary delay. Although I knew there were challenges ahead, I was eager to build on the progress the VCF team had made since the passage of the Zadroga Act in 2010 and its reauthorization in December 2015.
As a team, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) remains committed to awarding compensation as quickly and fairly as possible, and to handling each claim with the individual attention it deserves. The program statistics report we are issuing today reflects the strong and steady progress of the VCF under its current leadership team.