The funds that Congress set aside for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund are finite, and the number of claimants increases every day. To ensure fairness and stretch the funds as far as possible, the VCF has adopted the policy that certain collateral benefits should offset the amount of benefits a claimant receives from the Fund. These rules can be complicated, and not all payments trigger an offset.
The rules governing the VCF state that payments should be reduced to reflect collateral source payments made to claimants as a result of the events of 9/11. Collateral sources can include both public and private programs. They can also include money already received, as well as certain future payments, including:
- Life insurance payments
- Legal settlements
- Social Security benefits
- Workers compensation benefits
Some notable exceptions include charitable contributions and crime victim compensation payments. Moreover, the VCF special master has discretion to adjust or exclude certain payments from consideration as collateral sources, depending on the claimant’s specific circumstances. For instance, collateral offsets for life insurance or pension payments may be reduced to reflect the actual contributions the deceased victim made to the program. Contingent benefits that the claimant has not yet actually received may be subject to a reduced collateral offset or excluded entirely depending on the circumstances.
Collateral offsets are complicated and can significantly affect the amount of your VCF payment. Fortunately, the exceptions and discretion built into the rules give a knowledgeable attorney some possible paths to favorable results for their clients.