What is a Victims’ Compensation Fund?
This is a government program to reimburse victims and their families of violent crimes for most out-of-pocket expenses. Recovering from violence or abuse is difficult enough without having to worry about medical and counseling costs. The good news is, each state has their own compensation program to assist victims and their families. The compensation programs are serving an increasing number of people and with the largest amount of benefits. Continue reading to learn more from Experts.
Qualifications and Benefits
Compensation funds can help victims of crimes including:
- domestic violence
- child abuse
- assault including sexual assault
- elder abuse
- hate crimes
- drunk driving
- human trafficking
- online harassment
In California, minors who suffer emotional injuries from witnessing a crime are eligible for up to $5,000 for mental health counseling through the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP). This state’s program helps victims who reside in California as well as residents who become victims while visiting other states or another country.
CalVCP can help pay for expenses related to crimes such as:
- medical and dental treatment
- mental health services
- income loss
- funeral and burial expenses
- loss of support for dependents
- home or vehicle modifications
- home security
- crime scene cleanup
This state’s program does not pay for an expense that is not related to the crime and has a limit on how much can be paid for each loss.
Each state’s eligibility requirements vary slightly but victims are generally required to do the following:
- Promptly report the crime to the police. Most states have at 72-hour reporting requirement and some have a longer period of time.
- Cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of the crime in which you were a victim.
- Ensure innocence of any criminal activity or misconduct causing the crime.
- File an application with the compensation program in the state where it happened.
It is important to keep in mind the compensation programs are used as a last resort. Insurance and other government programs come first. Anything that is left over can be covered by victim compensation.
In Texas, your benefits may be reduced or denied if you:
- intentionally participate in the crime
- are the offender or accomplice
- were incarcerated in a penal institution at the time of the crime
- intentionally submit false or forged information to the attorney general
Applications for victim’s compensation are available at prosecutors’ offices and sometimes in hospitals and medical centers. You can get an application directly from the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program by calling the Office of the Attorney General.
After receiving the application and related documentation, the Attorney General’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Program reviews the information. Witnesses, law enforcement officers, physicians and other people involved may be contacted for additional information. A decision is usually made within 45 days.
If the applicant does not agree with the decision made, they have the right to appeal it. The victim or claimant must notify the program of the reason for their disapproval and provide additional information for the reconsideration process. If the outcome is still dissatisfactory, the applicant may request a final ruling hearing from the program. If the claimant or victim is not satisfied with the final hearing, an appeal can be made to district court.
September 11 Victims Compensation Fund
The September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was created to provide individuals or relative to an individual who was injured or killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crash or the debris removal efforts. The reauthorization in 2011 extends the VCF for 5 years and included some changes. Funding increased to $4.6 billion. It directs the funding to make a full payment on any loss that has already been issued and puts limitations on future award amounts.