In our last post, we discussed what to do if a September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) claimant died of causes unrelated to an eligible 9/11-related condition after filing a personal injury claim. This post addresses deaths related to an eligible 9/11 condition. As the number of deaths due to 9/11-related conditions increase, it is crucial for family members to understand how the VCF claim will be handled. If a claimant who has filed a personal injury claim dies, the VCF will stop processing the claim and/or payment of that claim until a Personal Representative of the deceased claimant is appointed. Accordingly, the first step that must be taken when the VCF claimant dies is to identify the Personal Representative.
The Personal Representative is the only individual authorized to submit a claim or receive payment on behalf of a deceased individual. This is normally the individual who is appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction, such as a state surrogate or probate court, as one of the following: (1) the Personal Representative of the decedent’s will or estate; (2) the Executor of the decedent’s will; or (3) the Administrator of the decedent’s estate.
Once the Personal Representative is identified, the correct “next step” varies depending on the cause of death.
Where a personal injury claimant has died of causes related to an eligible 9/11-related condition, the following instructions apply:
Step 1. Complete and submit a new Claim Form.
The Personal Representative will need to complete and submit a new claim by beginning a new registration under a new VCF number, and then completing all of the information in the eligibility and compensation portions of the claim. The Personal Representative should only register a new deceased claim if the victim died as a result of an eligible 9/11-related condition. If the cause of death was not 9/11-related, follow the instructions in the previous section above. For more information, see the VCF website “How to File a Claim” page. The Personal Representative must submit a new Claim Form even if a compensation decision was rendered on the original claim. There are certain sections of the form that are specific to claims for deceased individuals and VCF must have this information in order to calculate or reevaluate the amount of the award. Once the Personal Representative has submitted the Claim Form, the VCF will review the claim and will contact him/her if any additional information is needed in order to render a decision.
Step 2. Submit the required supporting documents that are applicable to the claim.
Review the Document Checklist to identify the specific documents that must be submitted in order for the VCF to process the claim. The Personal Representative does not need to resubmit any documents that were already submitted with the original Personal Injury claim as the VCF will be able to copy those documents to the new claim.
Step 3. Submit payment information for the Personal Representative.
The Personal Representative should submit payment information so the VCF can process any future payments. This may be a VCF ACH Payment Information Form or an authorization to pay a law firm account if the Personal Representative has such an agreement. If payment has already been made on the claim, the VCF will add the Personal Representative information and associated payment instructions to the claim for any future payments.
It is critical to the proper handling of the claim that the Personal Representative follow the steps above if the claimant dies of a 9/11-related condition. Please note that these steps differ from the steps discussed in the last blog post, which only apply to a decedent who died of a cause unrelated to a 9/11-related eligible condition.
A detailed list of the steps to take when a personal injury claimant dies can also be found on the VCF website.