Statement of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on the Office of Inspector General’s Report
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) acknowledges the work done by the Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), as described in its report released today, entitled “Audit of the Department of Justice’s Administration of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.”
Today’s VCF has undergone many positive changes since OIG concluded its substantive review, including new leadership and updated regulations that implement changes as a result of the Dec. 18, 2015, reauthorization of the program by Congress and the President for an additional five years. That reauthorization, which extended the application period until Dec. 18, 2020, and appropriated $4.6 billion in additional funding, was a demonstration of Congress’s faith in the program and a recognition both of its success and of the enormity of the work that remains to be done. The OIG’s report similarly recognizes the substantial work done by the VCF, finding that each of its recommendations has already been met by the VCF and deeming each one closed and requiring no further follow-up.
“While no amount of money can alleviate the losses suffered as a result of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the VCF plays a critical role in providing some measure of relief to those who continue to suffer,” said VCF Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya. “The VCF today is reauthorized and reinvigorated in its efforts to serve the 9/11 community, and has taken substantial steps to realign the program to promptly, accurately, consistently, and fairly decide the claims already pending and the claims still anticipated to be filed. The VCF is grateful for OIG’s collaborative approach to the audit, and for the time and effort that OIG expended in reviewing the Fund’s operations through February of 2016, when it completed its substantive review.”
Since 2011, the VCF has awarded over $2.8 billion in compensation to responders to the attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon, and at the Shanksville site, as well as to those who lived, worked, or traveled through areas of lower Manhattan that were exposed to debris and toxins generated by the attacks and their aftermath. The VCF continues to receive and review claims from those who have suffered, and has over $4 billion in funds remaining.
To date, the VCF has made more than 21,000 eligibility decisions, finding more than 16,900 claimants eligible for compensation. The VCF had also made award determinations on more than 13,000 of those claims, including over 11,000 responders. More than 4,000 of these claimants suffer from one or more cancers related to their 9/11 exposure, while the remainder suffer from other, often times disabling, physical injuries.
The VCF was created to provide compensation for any individual (or a personal representative of a deceased individual) who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of Sept. 11, 2001 or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes. The original VCF operated from 2001-2004. On Jan. 2, 2011, President Obama signed into law the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (Zadroga Act). Title II of the Zadroga Act reactivated the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The reactivated VCF opened in October 2011 and was authorized to operate for a period of five years, ending in October 2016. On Dec. 18, 2015, President Obama signed into law a bill reauthorizing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which included the reauthorization of the VCF.
For additional information about how to file a claim, please visit the “How to File a Claim” page on the VCF’s website at www.vcf.gov; information on VCF policies and procedures can be obtained at https://www.vcf.gov/pdf/VCFPolicy.pdf. If you have any questions about the claim form, the website, or the VCF process, please contact the VCF’s toll-free Helpline at 1-855-885-1555.