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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Victims of Crime Can Receive Compensation – A Message from the NCIL Violence & Abuse Subcommittee

People with disabilities are eligible from compensation when they are victims of crimes. The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984 provides funding to each state to compensate for some of the expenses related to being a victim of a crime.

Since people with disabilities experience violent crime twice as often (National Crime Victimization Survey Report 2013), one might expect states frequently serve victims with disabilities through their victim services programs. However, outreach to the disability community could be better.

Victims with disabilities and advocates need to learn about their state’s compensation programs. The National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Board website lists each state’s crime victim compensation program. Each state has its own budget and eligibility criteria.

One thing is true across the country: people with disabilities have a right to these services. If you, or a family member, has been a victim of a violent crime (including domestic violence, sexual assault, physical injury) you may be able to access compensation for out of pocket expenses like lost work, unpaid medical bills (including counseling), funeral and burial costs. The process can take several months. Contact your local Center for Independent Living (CIL) if you need support in the application process.

Due to a longstanding VOCA funding cap being lifted, state crime victim budgets were increased in FY2015. Some members of Congress are attempting to take away these long-needed increases which were being used to increase participation of victims with disabilities in many states. People can speak out against these new 2016 proposed cuts to victim services with their state senators and representatives.

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