Sept. 11 victim fund to end award reductions and restore previously reduced awards

DOJ officials said the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund will take steps to notify nearly 1,700 claimants of their unreduced payments by Sept. 11 of this year


By Paul Liotta
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — First responders and 9/11 survivors who received reduced payments from the federal fund meant to help them will be notified of their full compensation by the terror attack’s 18th anniversary.

A July 29 media release from the Department of Justice (DOJ) said the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund will take steps to notify nearly 1,700 claimants of their unreduced payments by Sept. 11 of this year.

New York City firefighters work amid debris on Cortlandt St. after the terrorist attacks. (Photo/AP by Mark Lennihan)
New York City firefighters work amid debris on Cortlandt St. after the terrorist attacks. (Photo/AP by Mark Lennihan)

“The entire VCF team is ready and eager to move forward into the next phase of this successful program with renewed energy and a reinvigorated clarity of purpose, and, as always, we remain dedicated to serving the needs of the 9/11 community,” VCF Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya said.

The announcement came the same day President Trump signed the bill that extended the VCF’s claim filing deadline from Dec. 18, 2020, to Oct. 1, 2090, and made available the funds to pay approved claims.

Bhattacharyya announced in February that the $7.375 billion of appropriated available funding was insufficient to pay all existing and expected VCF claims. The limited funding resulted in reduced payments.

Under the law passed with overwhelming bipartisan report, the VCF is required to begin making full payments at the beginning of fiscal year 2020, which starts Oct. 1. Bhattacharyya said the VCF hopes to begin the payment process by Sept. 11.

An initial version of the VCF existed from 2001-04, but as 9/11-related illnesses became an issue, a new version of the fund was put in place by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2011.

That act was named for a police officer who died at the age of 34 as a result of respiratory disease after spending time at Ground Zero during the cleanup efforts.

FDNY Firefighter Ray Pfeifer, and NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez both had their names added to the new bill after their recent deaths from 9/11-related illnesses. Alvarez passed away in June, and Pfeifer died in 2017.

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©2019 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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