9/11 Illness Victim Compensation Decisions Picking up after Slow Start

CBS New York

Dust fills the area around the World Trade Center as the Twin Towers collapse – New York, NY – September 11, 2001 (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Dust fills the area around the World Trade Center as the Twin Towers collapse – New York, NY – September 11, 2001 (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The fund that compensates those suffering from illnesses related to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has picked up the pace of evaluating applications after a slow start.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, as of November of last year, the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund had made only 112 compensation decisions.

But as of the end of June, that number had risen to 1,145 claims, worth a total value of more than $322 million.

Funds Special Master Sheila Birnbaum said the low number of decisions as of last fall can be attributed to bureaucratic issues.

But still, first responders such as John Feal said, “There’s a lot of frustration and anger.”

Feal said nearly 13 years later, thousands were still waiting and Washington was keeping a watchful eye.

“We have to get these numbers up because we’re going to go back to Congress in September to renew this bill, and we have to show Congress that this bill is working,” he said.

In just the past three months, the number of decisions has more than doubled. But of the more than 15,000 eligibility forms, the fund said 40 percent cannot even be processed due to missing information.

On Thursday, Birnbaum said the fund was continuing to work on its procedures and staffing to increase processing speed. That includes hiring a team of people to deal solely with processing payments.

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