Five Facts: The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund
This week, the debate continued in Washington on how to solve financing the shrinking 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund. In February, the Fund announced it was forced to reduce payouts by up to 70 percent due to the dramatic increase of submitted claims in recent years. This has sparked outrage from first responders, 9/11 advocates, and politicians, who cite that there are still thousands of people who will continue to be impacted by the attacks’ aftermath in the coming years. Now, lawmakers are trying to extend the fund to 2090, the same year the World Trade Center Health Program will end.
Here are five facts on the 9/11 Victims Fund and the pending legislation to help secure additional funding.
- The Victims Compensation Fund was signed into law by President Obama in 2011 under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. According to CNN, the Victims Compensation Fundreactivated the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which initially operated from 2001 to 2004 to help those impacted by the attacks at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pa.
- This Victims Compensation Fund coversmembers of the Fire Department of New York who spent at least one day working at any of the former World Trade Center sites and any of their surviving family members, any New York City responder who worked or volunteered on site, those who lived around the World Trade Center, and those who responded to the attacks at the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa. Compensation can be given for past and future lost wages, non-economic losses (what the Victims Compensation Fund’s website describes as “pain and suffering”), and past out-of-pocket medical expenses greater than $5,000.
- There is a lengthy list of physical and mental health conditions that are covered under the Victims Compensation Fund. These ailments include traumatic injuries, asthma, WTC-exacerbated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lymphomas, colon cancer, esophagus cancer, breast cancer, mesothelioma, and many others.
- To date, close to 40,000 peoplehave applied for funding through the program; 19,000 of these claims are pending. From October 2018 to February 2019, there was an increase of more than 8,000 claims, roughly the same number that were issued in previous years. And of the $7.3 billion fund, close to $5 billion in benefits have already been distributed. The highest number of claims submitted and awarded came from residents living on Staten Island in the 10312, 10314, and 10306 zip codes, according to the Staten Island Advance.
- The current legislation,“Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victims Compensation Act,” already has 226 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. In order to force the bill onto the House floor for a vote, 60 additional signatures are needed. The legislation also supports those from outside New York who responded to the attacks; the Daily News reports that Americans from all but one congressional district responded in some way.
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