Public Employee Press: PEP Talk
The Bottom Line on VCF Registration Deadlines
By MIKE LEE
As the country prepares for the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many New Yorkers with 9/11-related health conditions are now finding themselves in an even more precarious position due to the added ramifications of COVID-19.
Although there are benefits for those suffering from 9/11-related illnesses and for families of those who have unfortunately died, the grace period for those who missed prior deadlines to register with the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) ends on July 29, 2021.
Registering with the VCF is not the same as filing a claim. Registration preserves your right to file a claim in the future, waives no legal rights, and 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. The Registration Deadline is not the same for everyone, and the July 29, 2021 deadline does not apply to everyone. Registration Deadlines vary according to individual circumstances:
July 29, 2021 Deadline:
- If you were certified by the WTC Health Program for a 9/11-related physical health condition before July 29, 2019, you are required to register with the VCF by July 29, 2021. This deadline, which is two years from the date of enactment of the VCF Permanent Authorization Act, provides an opportunity for potentially eligible individuals who did not know that the VCF existed or was open to them, did not know that their condition was related to 9/11 exposure, or did not realize that they were eligible to file a VCF claim or that the VCF would be in place beyond the previous 2020 end date, to register to file a claim.
- If you are registering to file a claim for an individual who you believe died of a 9/11-related physical health condition before July 29, 2019, you are required to register with the VCF by July 29, 2021.
Individual Registration Deadlines:
- If you have not been certified by the World Trade Center (“WTC”) Health Program for a 9/11-related physical health condition, or if any condition is certified after July 29, 2019, you may register by July 29, 2021, but you are not required to do so. You will be required to register within two years of the latest date on which the WTC Health Program certifies your physical health condition as 9/11-related.
- If you are registering to file a claim for an individual who you believe died of a 9/11-related physical health condition after July 29, 2019, you are required to register with the VCF within two years of the date of death.
More information on VCF Registration Deadlines is available on their website: https://www.vcf.gov/deadlines
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic gripping New York City, the VCF continues its hard work. In a letter marking the 19th anniversary, Rupa Bhattacharyya, the Special Master of the Fund wrote, “Despite the difficulties of our times, the VCF remains active, fully operational, and productive.”
The Special Master also acknowledged that in the future, the VCF is likely to receive claims from those with a 9/11-related condition who also suffered or died as a result of COVID-19 and promised to review each case based on circumstances.
Henry Garrido, Executive Director of DC 37, said that paying tribute to not only the four members who died on that terrible day, but all the essential and frontline workers, is the best way to honor their sacrifice.
“We must never forget our union sisters and brothers, who as first responders and essential workers, died from working in the toxic ruins of the World Trade Center in the aftermath. Many continue to suffer, but we continue to fight hard on their behalf to ensure they receive proper health care and support. Their courage and commitment to public service remains an inspiration as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” Garrido said in his Sept. 11 Remembrance message.
In order to file a claim with the Victim Compensation Fund, medical conditions must be verified by the World Trade Center Health Program. If you suffer with a medical condition tha may be related to 9/11, or were in the designated disaster area between Sept. 11, 2001, and May 31, 2002, please enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program. For information on WTC Health Program eligibility and enrollment, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/apply.html or call 888.982.4748. The Program’s application forms detail who is qualified.
If you have any questions about the VCF, please call their Toll-free Helpline at 1.855.885.1555. The hearing impaired may call 1.855.885.1558 (TDD). From outside the United States, you may also call 1.202.514.1100. The VCF staff is very helpful and also you do not need a lawyer to file or seek a claim. You can also find more information on VCF on their website: https://www.vcf.gov/.