James Zadroga 9/11 VCF Reauthorization Act Interim Final Rules Released

The interim final regulations for the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) have been released by the Department of Justice (DOJ), effective June 15, 2016.

Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm that has long fought to ensure that the responders and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks are never forgotten, comments on recent news involving benefits for these rescue workers and survivors. The DOJ has released the interim final regulations for the James Zadroga 9/11 Victim Compensation Reauthorization Act (28 CFR Part 104; Docket Number COV151; RIN 1105-AB49) according to the Federal Register (Vol. 81, No.115) issued June 15, 2016. According to Parker Waichman, this is the next step for the VCF beginning the next round of payments.

Following approval of the $8.1 billion measure to renew the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, President Obama signed the bill into law on December 18, 2015, reauthorizing the Act. The Act includes the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the VCF. The WTC Health Program provides medical treatment and monitoring and is extended for another 75 years to 2090 with $3.5 billion in funding to monitor and care for 73,000 responders and survivors. The VCF was set to expire October 1, 2016 and is extended for another five years to 2021 with $4.6 billion in funding, notes Parker Waichman.

The new law directed the VCF to issue full compensation to claimants with Group A Claims— those nearly 10,0000 claims for which a loss determination was made on or before December 17, 2015—to be followed by payment Group B claims, the firm explains.

The Reauthorized Zadroga Act makes a number of changes. If approved, according to the DOJ, the statute specifically states that it:

• Extends the deadline for filing a claim from the original October 3, 2016 deadline to December 18, 2020.

• Establishes new claim categories based on issuance timing of a letter setting forth the total compensation to which a claimant is entitled: Group A and Group B, which are based on the date the Special Master “postmarks and transmits” its final award determination to a claimant.

• Imposes caps on the total non-economic loss that can be computed for various conditions, which are categorized as cancer and non-cancer; imposes a $200,000 cap on the annual gross income (defined in Section 61 of the Internal Revenue Code) used to determine economic loss.

• Directs the VCF to prioritize claim compensation for the most debilitating physical conditions.

• Makes the original $2,775,000,000 appropriation immediately available to pay claims. Prior to this, $875,000,000 of this amount was available through October 3, 2016; an additional $4,600,000,000 in funding is provided that becomes available on October 2016.

• Directs the VCF Special Master to conduct yearly reassessment of policies and procedures.

Parker Waichman actively worked toward the 2010 passage of the Zadroga Act, as well its reauthorization in 2015, committing its resources to many related projects, including lobbying efforts and rallies; delegations in trips to the nation’s capital, often along with the firm’s clients—other responders and survivors; and assistance with, and research on, the creation of the “Take Action” tool, which enabled citizens to review Congress members’ activities concerning the Act. As of May 24, 2016, the VCF paid out over $1 billion to claimants since the VCF reopened in 2011, according to the Fund’s Special Master.

“We are thrilled that the VCF has been expediting payments to those individuals who already received their award letter and applaud the VCF for looking for ways to make the process even more efficient to benefit the remaining claimants,” said Mathew McCauley, Senior Litigation counsel at Parker Waichman.

Parker Waichman vows to continue its efforts to safeguard these heroes and survivors and ensure all deserved Zadroga Act compensation is received. Please visit Parker Waichman’s website or call 1-800-LAW-INFO (1-800-529-4636) for additional information and assistance.

Release ID: 119923