9/11 Victims Fund Slashes Payouts

Rapidly dwindling fund announces payouts will be cut by at least 50%
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2019 9:17 AM CST
9/11 Victims Fund Slashes Payouts
In this Sept. 11, 2001 file photo, with the skeleton of the World Trade Center twin towers in the background, New York City firefighters work amid debris after the terrorist attacks.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is quickly running out of money, and claimants will be getting payouts that are slashed by at least half, reports NPR. The $7.3 billion fund, which opened in 2011 and is set to expire in December 2020, has faced a surge in new claims as it winds down. Pending claims will be paid at 50%, while any claims filed after Feb. 1 will be paid at 30%. "I am painfully aware of the inequity of the situation," says fund administrator Rupa Bhattacharyya. "But the stark reality of the data leaves me no choice. If there had been a different option available to me, I assure you I would have taken it." The numbers are pretty dire: The fund has paid out about $5 billion to 21,000 people; another 19,000 claims remain unpaid.

A 235% surge in claims since December 2015 isn't necessarily due to a race to cash in before the fund closes, so much as cancer latency periods and what Bhattacharyya says is a lack of "a good estimate of how many potential claimants there are, partly because there's never been a good estimate of how many people were exposed." Says John Feal, who lost half his foot working Ground Zero, "I cried. Congress continues to put deadlines in ... but these illnesses—cancer and respiratory illnesses—they have no deadlines." He's working with FBI Agents Association President Thomas O'Conner to extend the fund to 2090. "Most Americans have moved on over the last 18 years, and rightfully so," Feal says. "But for those who are deeply effected by 9/11, and are waiting for claims, this day hasn't ended for them. 9/11 continues." (More 9/11 victims stories.)

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