Victim's Compensation FAQ

FAQ: Massachusetts Victim’s Compensation Program

What is Victim’s Compensation?  Why might I want to apply for this benefit?

The program can help pay for medical and counseling expenses, funeral costs, lost wages and other expenses directly related to the crime. Victim Compensation can also help pay for crime-related mental health counseling services obtained by victims of violent crime, family members of homicide victims, and children who witness violence against a family member.

What types of crime qualify for Victim’s Compensation?

Any Massachusetts resident who is a victim of a violent crime, who is a dependent or family member of a homicide victim, or is a person handling the funeral expenses of a homicide victim are eligible for Victim’s Compensation. Violent crimes covered under Victim’s Compensation include:

  • sexual assault
  • physical assault
  • gun violence
  • child pornography
  • child sexual abuse
  • childhood physical abuse and neglect
  • burglary
  • robbery
  • kidnapping
  • human trafficking
  • stalking
  • terrorism
  • arson/Breaking & Entering (if victim was home at time of crime)
  • DUIs, DWIs, OUIs
  • Other specific types of motor vehicle crimes

 

The applicant has to be a direct victim of the violent crime – not a witness to that violence. Property crimes, fraud, larceny, etc. are not considered violent crimes.

I’m a victim of a crime.  How do I apply for Victim’s Compensation?

The crime must be reported to the police within 5 days. You may apply for compensation up to three years after the crime. A completed application can be sent to:

Office of Attorney General, Victim Compensation & Assistance Division

One Ashburton Place

Boston, MA 02108

Phone: (617) 727-2200 ext. 2160 Fax: (617) 742-6262 TTY: (617) 727-4765

Email: CCorrespondence@state.ma.us

Application: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/08/ng/victim-comp-app.pdf

The application process could take anywhere from 4-6 months, and then you will be notified of approval or denial, and the amount of money awarded. Victims may want to keep receipts for expenses they expect to submit for reimbursement on their claim. Once payment has been issued, a claim can be reopened as additional services are obtained, as long as the $25,000 cap has not been reached. 

Is a Sexual Assault Nurse Examination (SANE) report sufficient to submit to start the application process (instead of police report)?

If someone had a forensic kit administered, costs associated with the kit itself are automatically covered by the Office of Victim’s Compensation and Assistance. If they would like to apply for additional expenses (aftercare, medication, lost wages, security measures, etc.) they would need to apply, and the kit itself counts as a report to law enforcement for the purposes of Victim’s Compensation. There is a shortened application that comes with discharge paperwork from the hospital that they can submit. If a victim was sexually assaulted and did not get or could not get a kit done, they would need to file a police report, in order to file for Victim’s Compensation.

What is the monetary value of compensation?

Financial assistance for expenses up to $25,000 maximum may be provided. The funds are obtained primarily from court fees from perpetrators of crimes.

What other services would Victim’s Compensation cover?

Victim’s Compensation covers services directly related to the crime itself. It is not available for preexisting or unrelated conditions, except to the extent they have been exacerbated by the crime. The program can help pay for medical and counseling expenses, funeral costs, lost wages and other expenses directly related to the crime. Victim Compensation can also help pay for crime-related mental health counseling services obtained by victims of violent crime, family members of homicide victims, and children who witness violence against a family member. 

I already have a mental health provider.  Are other types of supportive services covered?

Alternative therapies are covered. For example, the Office of Victim's Compensation and Assistance can assist with therapeutic horseback riding, trauma-informed yoga. acupuncture and massage therapy. With these alternate therapies, please keep in mind that the services must be provided by a professional licensed in the Commonwealth. Sessions must be verified as crime related and if the sessions extend beyond 30 sessions, we require continued verification that the treatment remains crime related. If only a portion of the treatment is crime related, then we can only compensate for the portion verified as crime related.

Do I need approval from a medical doctor for any of the covered services?

A recommendation from a doctor is not needed to seek mental health services, unless it’s a very specific/alternative form of treatment. The Office of Victim's Compensation and Assistance has to verify that services are crime related, and the claimant’s insurance needs to be applied first, but beyond that further permission or approval from their primary provider is not necessary.

I am approved for Victim’s Compensation, but I’m not ready to see someone for mental health counseling now.  Can I use this later?  Does it expire?

Victims must file an application for Victim Compensation within 3 years of the crime occurring, but once they’ve applied and the claim has been approved, there is no expiration date – they can use the funds 5, 10, 20, 50 years down the line – so long as the compensation they seek is crime related. The only limit is the $25,000 cap – the claim “expires” once they use up that entire amount.

If Victim’s Compensation is reimbursing my mental health provider, will they review my therapist’s notes or my chart?

A verification form is sent to therapists and other providers to ensure that the treatment is crime related, to gain information on how much treatment costs, and to determine how many sessions are needed. However, the therapist does not need to send notes or copies of notes to the Office of Victim's Compensation and Assistance. The therapist should fill out the verification with information based off the treatment plan, but it does not need to be very specific and they do not need to divulge any personal information from the treatment.

 

Questions for Mental Health Providers:

I’m a mental health provider and would like to accept Victim’s Compensation. How do I do this?

Prior to recommending payment, the Office of Victim's Compensation and Assistance requires that mental health providers complete a verification form, providing an estimate of the length of treatment, and the extent to which services are directly related to the crime. While the Division has avoided establishing strict limits or “caps” on counseling, it relies on providers to establish and achieve reasonable treatment goals in a reasonable period of time. If services extend beyond 30 sessions, the Division may require supplemental verification of the claim. 

Providers accepting payment under the Victim Compensation Program must accept such payment as payment in full for their services. They may not balance-bill the victim or the victim’s family for any services that have been covered by the Victim Compensation Program.

Can Victim’s Compensation be used to help my client with transportation to and from my office?

Expenses for transportation are limited to:

  • transport to medical services for emergency and non-emergency ambulance service
  • chair car service
  • taxi service when public transportation is unavailable or unsuitable for medical needs

Victim’s Compensation does not cover compensation for public transportation, mileage, or parking when private transportation is used.

As a provider, will I be aware of how much funding my client has?

No, only the claimant will be aware of how much funding they have. However, Office of Victim’s Compensation and Assistance sends a letter with every payment to the provider letting them know how much is awarded. So, if a provider billed for 3 dates of service that cost a total of $200, and that was approved, the provider would be notified that MOVA is awarding $200 for those specific 3 dates of service. And again if the provider were to submit another bill. In order to get the full funding amount available, however, you would have to ask the claimant or, if they trust you with their claim number, you can always check in with Office of Victim’s Assistance as well.

How many sessions are "approved"?

A verification of treatment is good for either 6 months of service or 30 sessions, whichever comes first. Office of Victim’s Compensation and Assistance would just send another verification at that point to ensure that treatment is still crime related; it is not a hard limit by any means. Again the only real limit in this situation is if the claimant has used up the $25,000.

Resources:

Fact Sheet for Mental Health Professionals, Office of Attorney General Maura Healey, Victim Compensation and Assistance Division, Boston MA.

Email from: Viola Kaci, Eligibility and Outreach Coordinator, Office of Attorney General Maura Healey, Victim Compensation and Assistance Division, Boston MA.

Financial Assistance for Victims of Crime, Office of Attorney General Maura Healey, Victim Compensation and Assistance Division, Boston MA.