Earnings Losses and Your VCF Claim

If you have a 9/11-related physical injury that has limited or stopped your ability to work, you may be able to file a claim with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) to receive compensation for loss of earnings. The first thing to do is confirm that your injury or illness is certified by the WTC Health Program (WTCHP) or is certifiable by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Once your injury is accepted, the VCF will assess the extent of the earnings loss, as explained in the VCF Policy Guide. Earnings losses are considered economic losses by the VCF, and refer to a claimant’s financial losses and eligible expenses. Three of the most common losses of earnings include:

  • Past wages.
  • Employment-related benefits.
  • Future earnings.

Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. has extensive experience identifying these economic losses and can help you present these claims to the VCF.

Loss of Past Wages/Earnings

When submitting a claim for past wages, the VCF will obtain relevant information for from outside entities such as the Social Security Administration (SSA), the FDNY, the NYPD, or Workers’ Compensation.

You can support lost earnings claims with two types of mandatory information, essentially proving that due to your injury:

  1. You actually lost compensation. A work and salary history from your employer will provide dates, figures and periods in which you were not If you did receive payment — through sick pay or other compensation — you cannot claim to have “lost” wages.
  2. You could not work, or work at the same level. Examples are your physician’s report explaining why you had to miss work, Workers’ Compensation records, or determinations by an insurance carrier.

Loss of Employment-Related Benefits

Employment-related benefits refer to pension programs, retirement contribution programs and health benefits. If you were receiving these benefits prior to your injury, contact the appropriate parties for documentation.

To be compensated for your employer-sponsored pension benefits, the VCF will compute the lost pension based on available information. If submitted incompletely, the VCF will not compute the value of the lost pension and will instead apply its standard default values for retirement-type benefits. This amount may be less than what you had actually accumulated.

Loss of Future Earnings

Future earnings damages calculate the claimant’s potential to earn wages. For example, if you developed an illness following 9/11 and could no longer continue in your profession, the VCF will estimate your capacity before the sickness and compare it to the reduced earning capacity resulting from the injury.

Though it is impossible to know exactly how you would have progressed in your company, job or field, there are indicators that can support your claim. Documents that demonstrate your earnings up through your injury include:

  • Tax returns.
  • W2 and 1099 forms.
  • Pay stubs.
  • Employment offer letters.

It’s important to illustrate how your career was progressing when filing for future earnings, and there is information that helps explain it, such as proof of promotions and salary histories. Additionally, compensation outside of your salary that may be omitted from an SSA report — such as stock options, bonuses, deferred compensation — might be considered by the VCF when calculating future earnings.

Many 9/11 victims are still grappling with the physical effects of the terrorist attacks and the financial hardships incurred. The deadline for filing a VCF claim is December 18, 2020.

For more eligibility information regarding the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, or to  discuss what you must do to make an economic loss claim to the VCF, reach out to Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo at (800) 962-9954 and via our contact page.

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