NEW YORK – One month after assuming the position, September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) Special Master Sheila L. Birnbaum today published draft regulations to govern the VCF, and asked the public to give her feedback on the proposals before victims can begin submitting claims to the fund later this year.
The VCF was created under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act to reactivate the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund that operated from 2001-2003. The Act expands the pool of claimants to include first responders and other individuals who experienced latent physical injuries associated with the attacks or with debris removal.
Birnbaum’s draft rules include a process by which claimants from the first VCF can amend their claims to reflect new injuries and an allowance for the fund to cover additional health conditions as scientific knowledge evolves. The draft rules also significantly expand the geographic area covered by the VCF from its first iteration. The VCF will begin by covering the same physical injuries that are covered by the medical monitoring and treatment program that the Zadroga Act established as the VCF’s companion program.
In an email to potential VCF claimants and others, Birnbaum reiterated that her goal is “to create a process that is fair, transparent, and easy to navigate.” She said that the proposed rules will help the VCF make its decisions based on the best scientific and medical evidence that is available, and that the rules seek to minimize administrative expenses and maximize the funds available to be distributed to claimants.
Birnbaum was appointed as Special Master by Attorney General Eric Holder on May 18, 2011, and has spent the month since her appointment meeting with the men and women who will be most affected by the VCF. In her email, Birnbaum indicated that she hoped to meet with many more over the coming months and would value the public’s feedback on the draft regulations.
Individuals who wish to receive communications regarding the VCF should visit: www.justice.gov/vcf .
Individuals interested in commenting on the draft regulations can visit: www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=DOJ-CIV-2011-0017-0001.