Attorney Articles | A-Quick-Look-at-the-California-Victims-Compensation-Program

Articles by Legal Department Staff

The Legal Department articles are not intended to serve as legal advice and are offered for educational purposes only. The information provided should not be used as a substitute for independent legal advice and it is not intended to address every situation that could potentially arise. Please be aware that laws, regulations and technical standards change over time. As a result, it is important to verify and update any reference or information that is provided in the article.


This article will briefly review the California Victims Compensation Program.

Anastasia Johnson, JD
former Staff Attorney
The Therapist
September/October 2016

1 What is the California Victim Compensation Program?
The California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) can help victims of violent crime and their families deal with the emotional, physical, and financial aftermath of crime. Victims can apply for compensation by filing an application with the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB), which administers CalVCP. There are several ways for victims to apply and the information is available on the CalVCP website. http://vcgcb.

2 Who is eligible?
To be eligible for compensation, a person must be a victim of a qualifying crime involving physical injury, threat of physical injury, or death. For certain crimes, emotional injury alone is all that needs to be shown. Certain family members or other loved ones who suffer an economic loss resulting from an injury to, or death of, a victim of a crime may also be eligible for compensation.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. A California resident when the crime occurred, or the crime must have occurred in California.
  2. Cooperate reasonably with police and court officials to arrest and prosecute the offender.
  3. Cooperate with CalVCP staff to verify the application.
  4. Not have been involved in events leading to the crime or have participated in the crime.
  5. File the application within three years of the crime, three years after the direct victim turns 18 years of age, or three years from when the crime could have been discovered, whichever is later. Also, if the application is based on specified crimes involving sex with a minor, a victim may file at any time prior to the victim’s 28th birthday. If an application is filed late, the victim must complete the Late Filing Consideration Form and submit it with their application.

Also, people in the following categories may also be eligible:

  1. A person who is physically injured or threatened with physical injury as a result of a crime or act of terrorism that occurred in the State of California.
  2. A California resident or member of the military stationed in California who is a victim of a qualifying crime, wherever it occurs.
  3. An eligible family member or other specified persons who were legally dependent on the victim.
  4. A parent, sibling, spouse, or child of the victim.
  5. The fiancé (e) of the victim at the time of the crime or another family member of the victim who witnessed the crime.
  6. A grandparent or grandchild of the victim at the time of the crime, or a person living with the victim at the time of the crime, or who had previously lived with the victim for at least two years in a relationship similar to a parent, grandparent, spouse, sibling, child, or grandchild of the victim.
  7. A minor who witnesses a crime of domestic violence or who resides in a home where domestic violence occurs.
  8. Anyone who pays or assumes legal liability for a deceased victim’s medical, funeral, or burial expenses, or anyone who pays for the costs of crime scene clean-up for a homicide that occurred in a residence.
  9. A person who is the primary caretaker of a minor victim when treatment is rendered.

3 What are examples of crimes that are typically covered?

  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Battery (when there is injury or threat of injury)
  • Child abuse
  • Child sexual assault
  • Child endangerment and abandonment
  • Domestic violence
  • Driving under the influence
  • Hit and run
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Robbery
  • Sexual assault
  • Stalking
  • Sexual battery
  • Unlawful sexual intercourse (where there is injury or threat of injury)
  • Terrorism
  • Other crimes that result in physical injury or a threat of physical injury to the victim

4 What expenses can be paid using the CalVCP?
CalVCP can only pay for crime-related expenses that are not paid for by other sources. Examples of covered expenses are:

  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Mental health services
  • Income loss
  • Home and vehicle modification
  • Home security
  • Relocation
  • Crime scene clean up

5 What are the requirements for MFTs to be providers for CalVCP?
Any qualified mental health service provider can serve victims. This includes licensed MFTs and MFT Interns that are supervised by a licensed provider. There is no need to submit paperwork until you submit your first bill. Once an eligible victim visits a qualified mental health provider for treatment, the provider simply submits a bill to CalVCP. The provider is then listed in the CalVCP system as a provider.

The first time a provider submits a bill, the CalVCP recommends including a verification of license and a completed IRS Form W-9. All related billing forms are available on the CalVCP website.

6 What are the treatment limitations and reimbursement rates?
Minor and adult victims have an initial limit of 40 sessions. Immediate family members of homicide victims are limited to 30 sessions. Minor derivative victims are limited to 30 sessions while adult derivative victims are limited to 15 sessions. All providers must have a treatment plan that is completed and kept in the client file by the 4th session but providers should maintain regularly updated treatment plans within their files (which must be submitted to the CalVCP upon request).

LMFTs are reimbursed at a rate of $81 an hour for individual therapy and $32.40 for group therapy. MFT Interns under supervision, are reimbursed at a rate $75 an hour for individual therapy and $30 an hour for group therapy.

7 What kind of documentation is required?
Service providers are required to complete a Treatment Plan by the 4th session and should keep the treatment plan in the clients file. Additional documentation will depend on the length of treatment and may include a treatment plan, additional treatment plan, or session notes. According to CalVCP, a treatment plan will outline the focus of treatment, the treatment methods being utilized and the means of measuring progress. The session notes along with the treatment plan can be requested by CalVCP at any time to determine if the treatment focus is related to the underlying crime.

8 Will CalVCP review my records or perform a clinical review?
To ensure statutory compliance, CalVCP periodically conducts clinical reviews of mental health providers who treat victims of crime and who have received payment from CalVCP. The aim is to ensure that the treatment being provided is necessary as a direct result of the crime for which the application was filed. In the event that CalVCP conducts a clinical review the entity being audited will receive a letter requesting copies of the following documents:

  • Consent for Treatment
  • Proof of confidentially and privilege
  • Treatment Plan
  • Additional treatment plan (if session exceeded the initial limit)
  • Session notes
  • Psychological evaluations and assessment
  • And any other treatment records pertinent for the review

After completion of the review you will be notified in writing about the results. All documents that are submitted as part of the review are secured in the Mental Health Section of the CalVCP offices and access is restricted to the staff that will conduct the review. All documentation is handled with the utmost care and confidentiality. After the review the documents can either be returned to you or destroyed at the CalVCP offices.

9 Can a victim of crime who has been granted benefits from out of the state use their benefits in California with CA service providers?
If a resident of another state has been awarded benefits from that state and then decides to move to CA, the CA service provider should contact that state and inquire about benefits and how to proceed.

10 Where does a person who is a resident of CA apply for CalVCP if the crime happened out of the state?
Victims who have expenses due to a crime outside of California should file an application with that state. CalVCP may also be able to help with out-of-state crimes if the victim was a California resident at the time of the crime. Other states’ compensation programs are considered a reimbursement source and CalVCP will verify that you filed a claim in the state where the crime occurred. For a listing of state compensation programs, visit the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards’ website at

Additional Resources 

For more information please call the California Victims Compensation Program at 1-800- 777-9229 or visit their website: http://www.

Information specifically for service providers is available:

A comprehensive guide for Mental Health Professionals is available: http://

This article is not intended to serve as legal advice and is offered for educational purposes only. The information provided should not be used as a substitute for independent legal advice and it is not intended to address every situation that could potentially arise. Please be aware that laws, regulations and technical standards change over time. As a result, it is important to verify and update any reference or information that is provided in this article.