A federal fund created to assist victims of the 9/11 terror attacks will slash payments by at least 50 per cent as it struggles to deal with a surge of new claims, officials said Friday.
Victims with existing claims will have payments slashed in half while claims filed after February 1 of this year would see deeper cuts of up to 70 per cent, they said.
September 11th Victim Compensation Fund special master Rupa Bhattacharyya said the fund received a “record number of claims” last year and that she’s “painfully aware of the inequity of the situation.”
“I also deeply regret that I could not honour my intention to spare any claim submitted prior to this announcement from any reductions made due to a determination of funding insufficiency,” she said.
“But the stark reality of the data leaves me no choice. It is the best that we could do.”
Bhattacharyya said the reduction in payouts from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is necessary because the $US2.37 billion remaining in the $US7.37 billion fund is not enough to compensate the thousands of additional eligible victims and family members.
Roughly 40,000 people have already applied to the seven-year-old fund, which covers victims who suffered respiratory problems and other illnesses as a result of being near Ground Zero during and after the 9/11 attacks.
Nearly $US5 billion in health benefits has already been distributed to 21,000 claimants.
Another 20,000 or so are pending.
“This is devastating news to the thousands of sick and injured 9/11 responders and survivors who were promised, and have been counting on, being fully compensated for the losses they have suffered,” said Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY) in a joint statement.
They’re planning to introduce bipartisan legislation to restore the cuts.
The fund plans to stop taking claims in December 2020.
Nearly 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001 when aeroplanes hijacked by al Qaeda crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon outside Washington, and a Pennsylvania field.
— with Reuters
This article originally appeared on New York Post and was reproduced with permission