9/11 victim’s fund slow to pay on claims
Delay angers advocates, but administrators point to missing documentation
Only 112 of the tens of thousands of claims submitted to the 9/11 fund established by Congress for victims of 9/11 have been resolved, meaning determinations have been made and money awarded to the claimants. The $27 million paid out so far amounts to less than one percent of the $2.8 billion fund.
That statistic, in the 2nd Annual Report recently released by the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, shows “a major lack of progress in making final determinations of claims and making awards to those that have been waiting so long for compensation,” according to 9/11 Health Watch,
The fund was established in 2011 to provide money to those who became ill after working at Ground Zero or the Pentagon Shanksville, PA jetliner crash sites that resulted from terrorism. Those who got sick from living or working near Ground Zero are also eligible.
Claimants must show that they spent time at one of the sites and that they developed one of the diseases covered by the fund.
The Sept. 11 victims’ advocacy group says the people made ill by 9/11 and its aftermath deserve swifter action on their claims.
“It was bad enough that responders, survivors, and their families had to wait a decade for the legislation creating the VCF to be passed. Now, they are forced to wait for many months for final determinations from the fund; this is time they literally cannot afford. While we understand the challenges of setting up and managing this compensation program, quite simply, the VCF has to do better in order for the promise of the law and our commitment to those eligible to be fulfilled.”
The problem, says Sheila L. Birnbaum, Special Master of the fund, is that many submissions are missing the documented needed to support the claimed loss.
“Although these documents are requested as part of the claim form instructions, many claimants have not submitted the proof necessary to compensate for the losses included in the claim form,” Birnbaum writes in the report.
Birnbaum has said documentation is important in order to avoid fraudulent claims.
9/11 Health Watch says it will meet with Birnbaum and her staff, along with attorneys who represent many of the claimants, in the coming weeks, to try to find ways to increase the speed of the process.
Most of those who’ve submitted claims to the fund have been New York City first responders (39,578). Non-responders account for 10,802 claims, NYC residents for 5,451, clean up workers for 3, 523 and other NYC workers for 7,694. First responders at the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa. have filed 504 claims.