July 22, 2016 - VCF Special Master Steps Down, Department of Justice Appoints New Special Master
On July 21, 2016, Sheila Birnbaum announced that she would step down as Special Master of the Victim Compensation Fund. From the DOJ Press Release:
Birnbaum has served as VCF Special Master since May 2011, after the fund created under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act (Zadroga Act) was signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 2, 2011. The VCF was reauthorized in December 2015 and under Birnbaum’s leadership has rendered award decisions on more than 10,000 claims and paid over $1.8 billion to first responders, recovery workers and residents who suffered physical harm or were killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of Sept. 11, 2001, or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath.
The Department of Justice has appointed Rupa Bhattacharyya to replace Special Master Birnbaum, effective July 21, 2016. Special Master Bhattacharyya has extensive experience administering similar compensation programs. From the DOJ Press Release:
Prior to Bhattacharyya’s selection to run the 9/11 VCF, she has served as the Justice Department’s Constitutional and Specialized Torts Branch Director since April 2012. As Director, Bhattacharyya oversees separate groups of attorneys and professional staff for the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which has paid in excess of $3.4 billion to more than 4,700 people since the Program’s 1988 inception under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act; the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act program, which has awarded more than $2 billion in compassionate compensation to eligible claimants under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act; and the Constitutional Torts staff, which defends constitutional tort claims brought against federal officials sued in their individual capacities in federal district courts and reviews and makes determinations on requests for individual capacity representation from federal employees. Bhattacharrya has also served informally as an advisor to the Civil Division on matters related to the 9/11 VCF, including implementation of the reauthorizing legislation and promulgation of the associated regulations. She additionally serves as an advisor to other government components on compensation and representation programs, including the newly created U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, administered by the Department’s Criminal Division.
The VCF has begun to issue Loss Calculation letters on Group B claims. We anticipate that the online claims system will reopen in mid-August, and that we will be able to submit new and amended claims at that time.
The VCF will remain open until December 18, 2020, and the registration period remains open for anyone diagnosed with new WTC-related conditions within the past two years.
For more information regarding VCF claims, or the appointment of a new Special Master, please contact us at (212) 766-5800.