By:Eddie Marcowitz, Esq.
Unfortunately, over the years there has been confusing messages put out there about the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) and various deadlines that may or may not apply to you. In the last few months, many 9/11 organizations and VCF law firms have been talking about a deadline that is fast approaching, July 29, 2021.
So what is the July 29th 2021 Deadline and does it apply to you?
The issue with the VCF deadlines has to do with the “Registration Process” as opposed to the “Claims Filing Process”.
The July 29th deadline is a timely filing deadline. Simply put, applicants must register for the VCF BEFORE JULY 29, 2021 IF THEY WERE CERTIFIED FOR A PHYSICAL HEALTH CONDITION BY THE WTC HEALTH PROGRAM PRIOR TO JULY 29TH 2019.
The July 29th 2021 Deadline also applies to family members applying on behalf of a deceased relative if that relative passed away from a 9/11 illness such as cancer before July 29, 2021. Even if someone passed away years ago, the Estate may still qualify. In essence, the statute of limitations (the time in which to register a claim) for otherwise valid claims was extended from the date of the reauthorization. Which means those who were certified many years ago, and/or families who lost loves ones due to a 9/11 cancer (or other condition) going back many years can still register a timely claim.
The VCF deadline for registering a claim is currently two years from the time the WTC Health Program Certifies a 9/11 related physical condition. The Special Master reset the deadline for many folks and families who did not know about the program prior to the reauthorization by President Trump on July 29, 2019.
The good news is that anybody who was certified by the WTC Health Program AFTER July 29th 2019 or has not yet been certified, (and or in the case of a loved one who has passed since that date) does not need to pay attention to this registration deadline. You must, however, register for the VCF within TWO YEARS of your most recent WTC Health Program Certification. For example, if you were certified for any 9/11 physical injury (including over 68 cancers) in May of 2021, you still have until May of 2023 to register.
But why wait? You can register for the VCF right now regardless!
Anyone who was exposed to the toxic dust in the aftermath of 9/11 can register a claim. If you were below Canal Street between 9/11/01 and May 30th 2002 you may qualify and should register. “Registration” is open to responders and survivors (those who lived and worked in the area) regardless of their health and is NOT THE SAME AS FILING A CLAIM. “Registration” merely preserves your right to file a claim in the future and in and of itself satisfies the VCF statute of limitations. Once you “register your claim” you then have until the year 2090 (when the Statute Expires) to file your claim.
The Marcowitz Law Firm, PLLC is happy to “Register” claims for NJFMBA members and their families without any obligation. Simply call 1-718-529-4040, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.marcowitzlaw.com and our staff will get you registered and provide you with your registration number that same day.
9/11 WTC DISABILITY PENSION UNDER THE RICCI BILL AND ECONOMIC LOSS FROM VCF
We have recently been able to secure an award in excess of $1,000,000 dollars for a NJ First Responder who received a 9/11 related disability pension under the Ricci Bill. Even with offsets, the potential awards are significant and are designed to give responders and their families piece of mind.
Members should be advised that if you filed a claim with the VCF and received an award for non-economic loss and have since been found disabled and awarded a PFRS Pension due to a 9/11 physical injury, you may be entitled to amend your VCF claim for economic loss you have suffered. We encourage you to contact our office to discuss the potential for this type of claim. You do not have to use the same law firm for an amended claim. We are always available and happy to answer any questions.
Attorney Edward Marcowitz has unparalleled experience with the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). He’s proud and honored to serve as the personal attorney for the family of the late NYPD detective James Zadroga for whom the Zadroga Act is named.