Victim Compensation Fund Update: Special Master’s Office Releases Mid-year Statistics

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The New York personal injury attorneys at Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson, P.C., who represent post 9/11 victims, comment on the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund update.

While this progress report is certainly hopeful, it reminds us that at this rate there likely won’t be enough money available to fully compensate everyone who has been certified with a WTC illness.

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has announced its mid-year statistics. As of June 30th, the VCF has made loss determinations of more than $1.3 billion, has approved 11,770 eligibility claims and made 5,636 loss decisions, totaling $1,310,149,991.

First responders account for 91 percent of the total loss amount. Individuals with cancer diagnoses account for 18 percent of the awards. While it is not surprising to learn that most VCF claimants live in New York and New Jersey, the next most represented states are Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, and every state has a registered claimant. Sheila Birnbaum, the VCF’s Special Master said: “This geographic diversity reminds us that September 11th affected us as a nation, and volunteers and responders came from across America to offer assistance and support to those in need”.

Michael Barasch, managing partner of Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson said: “While this progress report is certainly hopeful, it reminds us that at this rate there likely won’t be enough money available to fully compensate everyone who has been certified with a WTC illness. No one knows how many more people will be diagnosed with WTC-related cancers. Additional claims and awards pose the risk of having the total amount of awards exceed the $2.7 billion that Congress authorized the Special Master to pay out. If the total amount of the awards exceeds $2.7 billion, the Special Master will have to reduce everyone’s award pro rata. That is why our law firm is spending its time and money lobbying Congress to extend the VCF and authorize additional funding”.

Additionally, the WTC Health Program is at risk of running out of funds. If the Zadroga Health and Compensation Act is not extended by Congress, health care will not be available after October, 2016. For those of you who live outside of New York, we need your help. Please contact your representatives immediately and urge them to support the extension of the Zadroga Health and Compensation Act. We hope Congress will vote for the extension of the Act this Fall. Time is of the essence.

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Brian Harvey