What is the USVSST Fund?
In today’s world most of us are very aware of terrorism, although relatively few of us experience such terrorism directly. We hear stories on the news about an act of terrorism in our own country or another country which leaves many of us feeling generally uneasy about the state of our world. Thousands of wounded veterans, their family members, and Gold Star families from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are victims of terrorism, particularly Iranian sponsored terrorism. While many Americans who have been the victim of terrorism may feel largely forgotten, there have been new efforts to help these victims seek justice—both in the United States and abroad.
In 2015, the United States Department of Justice took a major step in holding foreign terrorists accountable for their actions by establishing the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund (USVSST). This fund has compensated thousands of American victims of international acts of terrorism. These victims may include:
- Iran hostages held from 1979-1981, along with their families;
- Victims of embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania;
- Victims of the U.S.S. Cole, and
- Others who were victims of certain international terrorist incidents.
Primarily, the USVSST Fund awards compensation to those who have secured final judgments in a U.S. district court against a state-sponsor of terrorism, or those who were held hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran between 1979 and 1981 and their spouses and children. A state sponsor of terrorism is defined as any country which the Secretary of State has determined has a government which repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.
How is the USVSST Funded?
The USVSST is supported by sanctions, fines, penalties and proceeds from both criminal and civil matters which involved prohibited transactions with state sponsors of terrorism. As an example, when a foreign bank is found guilty of laundering money and that money is used to support terrorist groups (in direct violation of American sanctions) then the retribution fees paid by the bank go into the USVSST pool.
More than $800 million in payments has been issued from the USVSST fund to American victims and their family members, however it is estimated that more than $1 billion will eventually be issued. Obviously, the staggering losses which result from acts of terrorism cannot be “fixed” with money, however the United States is working hard to advocate for victims of terrorism and their families.
Who is Eligible for the USVSST Fund?
The USVSST fund may compensate eligible individuals in the United States who either:
- Hold a final judgment which was issued by a U.S. district court which awarded that individual compensatory damages for an act of international terrorism—for which a foreign state sponsor of terrorism was found not immune under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, or
- Were held hostage from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran between November 4, 1979 and January 20, 1981 (or spouses or children of these hostages).
Claims based on eligibility for those individuals who obtained a final judgment on or after July 14, 2016 must be filed within 90 days of the judgment date.
How Do You Make a USVSST Claim?
If you qualify, you can make a USVSST claim by securing an Application form from the USVSST website (www.usvsst.com), by calling (855) 720-6966, or by sending a written request for an Application Form to: U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, c/o GCG, P.O. Box 10299, Dublin, OH 43017-5899. Alternatively, you can consult an experienced USVSST lawyer to help you in making your USVSST claim.
How are the USVSST Claims Paid Out?
Eligible claims are paid based on a pro rata basis from available funds. Eligible claims will be paid out until all claims have been paid in full or when the fund terminates in 2026. The initial 2017 distribution percentage was 13.66%, however you can take a look at the payment calculation explanation on the USVSST Fund website for more detailed information regarding the amount you can reasonably expect.
Those who received an award from the 9/11 Compensation Fund have certain limitations for claims under the USVSST. Further, claimants who have received 30 percent or more of compensatory damages from another source may not receive damages from the USVSST until other claimants have received at least 30 percent of their compensatory damages from the USVSST fund.
For spouses and family members making a claim on behalf of a qualifying decedent, the award will generally be made to the qualified Personal Representative of the decedent’s estate, who will then be charged with distributing the award in a manner consistent with the decedent’s will. If no will exists, the award must be distributed according to the laws of the decedent’s state.
How a USVSST Lawyer Can Help United States Victims of State-Sponsored Terrorism
If you believe you qualify for an award from the USVSST fund, it could be extremely helpful to consult a knowledgeable USVSST lawyer who can help you in filing a USVSST Lawsuit. Having a United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Lawyer by your side can make all the difference in the final outcome of your claim. Do not wait—your window of opportunity may be closing fast. Contact a USVSST attorney today.