Fund for 9/11 first responders, survivors approves $400 million in claims

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund announced earlier this week it signed off on 7,885 claims found eligible and issued 1,843 compensation decisions for first responders and survivors.

first responders sept 11 health First responders Manny Rodriguez, Pia Hofmann, Det. Anthony Favara, of the NYPD, and Lt. Stephen Butler, of the Port Authority Police, speak next to the 'Last Beam' during the dedication ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial May 15, 2014 in New York City.
Credit: Chris Pedota-Pool/Getty Images

 

The national fund created to help offset the medical costs of first responders and survivors of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks saw a surge in compensations after what observers described a sluggish start.

 

 

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund announced earlier this week it signed off on 7,885 claims found eligible and issued 1,843 compensation decisions.

 

In all, the fund's administrator Sheila Birnbaum said in a statement that it approved $494 million for those still recovering from the national tragedy 13 years ago Thursday.

"But this somber anniversary is, for the fund, not a moment to pause but rather a reminder that we must increase our efforts and build on our recent progress," she said in a statement.

Benjamin Chevat of 9/11 Health Watch, an advocacy group that monitors the fund, says the VCF is headed in the right direction.

"They are definitely picking up speed," he said, "and they've corrected a lot of the problems from when they first started."

Last year, the fund was criticized for only awarding $27 million of the nearly $3 billion appropriated by Congress.

Earlier this week, Chevat stood with local, state and federal legislators in front of the World Trade Center to pressure Congress to renew the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act approved in 2010 that pays for the fund.

Parts of the law expire as soon as 2015.

Chevat explained that while earlier 9/11 compensation funds were created to pay families of those lost in the attacks, the current fund has been harder to implement because of all the variables that go into evaluating eligibility and illnesses.

"On a whole, though, we're seeing improvement," he added.

Individuals who have not yet applied for compensation through the fund can find out more about eligibility and file a claim on the Victim Compensation Fund website at http://www.vcf.gov/.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria

 
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