On July 29, 2019, President Trump signed into law the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.” While the primary goal of the act was to extend the deadline for claims filed to the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), it had a number of other provisions that directly affect those who were impacted by 9/11-related illnesses and their families. Below are the four most important provisions of the act and what they mean for you.
For more information about the Never Forget the Heroes Act or more in-depth details about any topic herein, please contact a 9/11 attorney.
1. It Removes Funding Caps
Previous iterations of the VCF received appropriations that were capped at a certain amount, meaning that only a certain number of claimants would be eligible for full compensation. The new bill removes those limitations, requiring that the VCF be funded with “such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2019 and each fiscal year thereafter through fiscal year 2092, to remain available until expended.”
2. It Permanently Funds the Victim Compensation Fund
Under the previous reauthorization of the VCF, passed in 2015 by President Obama, the deadline for filing claims was December 2020, which is just more than a year away from the date of publication. The new bill extends the deadline to 2090. While the new deadline is only 70 years after the date of the old deadline, the funding is considered to be “permanent,” as that period of time is longer than the expected lifespans of the vast majority of 9/11 first responders. Thus, anyone who is eligible for these funds may file a claim for the foreseeable future.
3. It Fully Compensates Prior Claimants for Awards Reduced Due to Insufficient Funding
In February of 2019, the Special Master of the VCF determined that the $7.375 billion allocated to it likely would be insufficient to pay all awarded claims and future awarded claims by the 202 deadline. As such, she reduced awards to ensure that the VCF would not run out of funding before 2020. The new bill orders the VCF to fully compensate any claimants whose awards were reduced by compensating them for the difference between the reduced award and the unreduced award had the reduction not been necessary.
4. It Removes the Cap on Non-Economic Damages in Certain Circumstances
Under the VCF’s previous reauthorization bill, non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life, etc.) were capped at $250,000 for cancer claims and $90,000 for all other claims. The new bill maintains those caps but allows the Special Master to exceed those caps in “special circumstances,” such as in situations in which the capped award is insufficiently compensatory for the particular claimant.
Contact a 9/11 Attorney to File a Claim
If you or a loved one suffer a 9/11-related illness, you deserve to be compensated to the fullest extent possible. To get started, please contact a 9/11 attorney at Pitta & Baione by using our online contact form or by calling us at 844-982-2667.