Breaking News: VCF Cuts Future Awards Due to Unforeseen Spikes in Cancer and Death Claims
So many people in the 9/11 community are getting sick and dying from 9/11 illnesses, that the Victim Compensation Fund is running out of money.
When Congress re-authorized the Zadroga Act in 2015, it extended the World Trade Center Health Program for 75 years, but the VCF for just 5 years. The Bureau of Health Services gets funding as part of the WTC Health Program, ensuring that firefighters will always receive 9/11 health services. But unless Congress acts, the right to compensation for pain and suffering and lost earnings will soon be gone.
While billions of dollars were added to the VCF in 2016, neither the CDC nor Congress anticipated the explosion in WTC-linked illnesses and deaths. As a result, actuaries at the VCF have concluded that the VCF’s Special Master must now cut future awards by 50%-70% in order to ensure that there are funds available for all claimants who file prior to the December, 2020 deadline.
And, many who have already received awards will also be shut out when they are found disabled, or diagnosed with new illnesses in the future. These drastic cuts will also affect the families of those who pass away from WTC-related illnesses.
Working to fix this injustice
On February 25, 2019 Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado introduced a bill known as “Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.” This bill will fill the shortfall in funding for the VCF, reverse the cuts to awards, and permanently authorize the Fund to remain open for years to come. Barasch & McGarry sent a group of 40 first responders, downtown residents, office workers, students and teachers to Washington, D.C. to meet with legislators. Bridget Gormley, daughter of William Gormley, and Rob Tilearcio, son of Robert ‘Skippy’ Tilearcio joined us.
While we wait for Congress to pass this critical legislation, the VCF will continue to award compensation for both non-economic loss (pain and suffering) and, where appropriate, economic loss. Unfortunately, unless and until Congress passes the new legislation, future awards will be just 30% of what they would have been prior to the recently announced reductions. And, unless the VCF is extended, anyone who gets sick or dies after the VCF closes on December 18, 2020, will not be able to receive compensation. This cannot be allowed to happen!
What you can do
You can use your voice to help 9/11 victims. While NY and NJ Members of Congress overwhelmingly support extension of the bill, support from members from other states are mixed. If you have friends or family who live outside of the New York metropolitan area, please encourage them to reach out to
their representatives to urge them to support the bill. The Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act has created a website tool that makes it easy for people to contact their Members of Congress. This can be found at https://www.renew911health.org/take-action/take-action-contact-your-members-of-congress/. You will be prompted to type in your address and you will then be told who your Members of Congress are, and whether they have agreed to support/co-sponsor the bill yet. If you want, it will seamlessly connect you
to their office.
We will keep you updated about developments in this area. Rest assured that we are doing everything that we can to ensure that this injustice is corrected.