NEW YORK – With the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, approaching, September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) Special Master Sheila L. Birnbaum today announced the final rule governing the fund. Since issuing the proposed regulations in June 2011, Special Master Birnbaum has reviewed formal comments and met with, and received feedback from, hundreds of New York-area residents, workers and first responders at town hall meetings held in New York and New Jersey.
The rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register later this week, and it will go into effect when the VCF opens its doors on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. Comprehensive information about filing claims will be available at that time.
“ As I stated when I was first appointed to this position by the Attorney General, my goal is for the Victim Compensation Fund to be fair, transparent, and easy to navigate for those who have been affected the most by the devastating events of September 11th,” said Special Master Birnbaum. “I have benefited ‒ and the fund has been made stronger ‒ from the constructive suggestions and insights of the hundreds of area residents, workers and first responders I have spoken with during this process.”
Based on a review of the comments, as well as available scientific and medical evidence, Special Master Birnbaum announced a number of changes to the regulations for the final rule, including the expansion of the geographic zone recognized as a 9/11 crash site to include the area south of Canal Street. As a result, the initial zone of coverage will include the World Trade Center (WTC), Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa., sites; the buildings that were destroyed; the area south of Canal Street in lower Manhattan; and the routes of debris removal.
The rule also clarifies the types of fees and charges that would come within the caps on amounts that a claimant’s representative may charge in connection with a claim made to the fund.
With respect to the list of physical injuries and conditions governing eligibility for awards, Special Master Birnbaum reiterated her commitment to follow available scientific and medical evidence. In an email to potential VCF claimants and interested parties, Special Master Birnbaum wrote: “After considering all of the comments and the available scientific and medical evidence, I have decided that it is important, and consistent with the intentions of Congress, that I continue to rely on the medical judgment made by the WTC Health Program.”
Birnbaum was appointed as special master by Attorney General Eric Holder on May 18, 2011, and has spent the months since her appointment meeting with the men and women who will be most affected by the VCF.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act reactivated 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.
Individuals who wish to either read the final rule in its entirety or receive communications regarding the VCF should visit: www.justice.gov/vcf .