U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY), authors of H.R. 847, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, issued the following joint statement on the announcement today by Special Master Sheila Birnbaum that the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is now accepting compensation claims:
"This is the most significant step forward yet for the reopened 9/11 compensation fund. Ailing 9/11 responders and survivors have been waiting for this day for seven years, so we're delighted that it's finally here. Those with injuries and illnesses caused by the attacks should take the time to look at the VCF website and begin gathering the documentation they will need to submit a claim. The fund will continue taking applications until October 2013.
"We once again commend Special Master Birnbaum for her efforts to put in place a user-friendly application process and to seek input from 9/11 responders and survivors to make the program better. We will continue working to create the most compassionate and efficient program possible for those injured by the toxins at ground zero."
According to the Department of Justice:
The VCF's website, http://www.vcf.gov/, will enable claimants to: register for the VCF online, the first step in the claims process; obtain a checklist of documents and information that claimants will need when they submit their claims; and review a list of frequently-asked questions, which will be updated regularly. The website is designed to make the process as simple as possible.
Claimants who have registered for the fund can fill out an online eligibility form that will be used to determine whether they are eligible for compensation through the VCF. Claimants who are found eligible will be invited to complete the compensation form, which will be used to determine the amount of compensation they are owed.
Although paper forms will be made available to those without Internet access, Special Master Birnbaum encourages claimants to use the online system. She also noted in an e-mail to potential claimants and interested parties that they are not required to submit claims on the first day, and that pro bono counsel are volunteering to assist claimants. Claimants who currently suffer from a covered condition have until Oct. 3, 2013 to file a claim, and others will have two years from the date on which they know or should have known of the condition for which they seek compensation until the VCF stops accepting claims in 2016.
The Zadroga law provides health care for those injured or exposed to toxins released by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, and reopens the VCF to provide economic relief to those harmed by the attacks (the original VCF was created in the weeks following 9/11 and closed in December 2003).
In January, Maloney, Nadler, and King released documents from the Congressional Research Service to help answer questions that members of the media and the public may have about the new law. Below are links to the four documents:
* A Q&A on eligibility for health and compensation benefits under the Zadroga Act;
* A timeline of dates by which the new law will be implemented;
* A brief, plain-language summary of the law; and
* A section-by-section summary of the law.