FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 4, 2011
SCHUMER GETS COMMITMENT FROM HOLDER TO HAVE ZADROGA 9/11 VICTIMS COMPENSATION FUND UP AND RUNNING BY OCTOBER 1ST
After Questioning from Schumer at Judiciary Hearing, Holder Commits to
Having VCF Operational by October 1st So That Claims Can Immediately Be
Paid Out And Delays Can Be Avoided
Holder’s Commitment Clears Up Concern Over Potential Delays in VCF Becoming Operational by October 1st Deadline
Schumer: Commitment from Justice Department will Make Sure there Are No Delays in Paying Claims for First Responders
United States Senator Charles E. Schumer received a commitment today from Attorney General Eric Holder that the Zadroga 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) will be up and running and operational by October 1st, ensuring that claims can be paid out immediately. While the law as passed authorized the Victims Compensation Fund to begin paying out claims by October 1, 2011, a concern had been raised by Schumer and others about the time it would take for a special master to draft and finalize regulations as well as the time it would take to get the physical infrastructure in place for the VCF to be up and running. Holder’s commitment clears up the question as to whether the fund will be ready to accept claims by October 2, 2011 so that payment could be made as expeditiously as possible.
“It has been a good week for those of us so greatly affected by the attacks of September 11 and this is the icing on the cake,” said Schumer. “Come October 1, we want to make sure that our first responders are able to quickly submit claims and quickly receive payment. What we don’t want to happen is to stop claims from being paid immediately because of hang ups in getting the system operational.”
The Zadroga Act, as originally passed by the House, did not allow the Justice Department to use the funds appropriated in the act to begin taking and processing claims. The original bill language created a delay in getting the fund established. In the continuing budget resolution that passed Congress last month, Senator Schumer and others made corrections that allowed DOJ to use those funds to get the VCF up and running. Schumer raised concerns that the delay would postpone the ability for payments to actually be made as soon as possible after claims were submitted. Attorney General Holder’s commitment today to have the fund fully operational by October 1st , means that DOJ has committed to use other funds from DOJ’s accounts during Fiscal Year 2011 to get the program up and running during the next few months in a way that will allow for both claims and payments to be administered immediately on October 1, 2011—the first day of fiscal year 2012, which is also the first day claims could ever have been paid under the 9/11 bill.