A federal fund created to help the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 will reduce payments by at least 50% as it struggles to cope with a resurgence of new demands, officials said Friday.
Payments for victims of existing claims will be cut in half, while claims filed after February 1 of this year would result in larger discounts of up to 70 percent, they said.
On September 11, Rupa Bhattacharyya, special director of the Victims' Compensation Fund, said the fund had received a "record number of claims for compensation" last year and that she was "painfully aware of the inequality of the situation".
"I also deeply regret not being able to honor my intention to save any reduction made due to the underfunding of a claim submitted prior to this announcement, due to the finding of a claim." insufficient funding ".
"But the harsh reality of data does not give me a choice – it's the best we can do."
Bhattacharyya said the reduction in payments from the 9/11 Victims' Compensation Fund was necessary because the $ 2.37 billion remaining in the $ 7.37 billion fund is not enough to compensate the thousands of victims and additional eligible family members.
About 40,000 people have already applied for the fund created 7 years ago, which covers victims of respiratory problems and other illnesses because of their proximity to Ground Zero during and after the 9/11 attacks.
Nearly $ 5 billion in health benefits have already been distributed to 21,000 applicants.
About 20,000 others are waiting.
"This is devastating news for the thousands of rescued and injured September 11th aid and survivors who had been promised and on whom they expected to be fully compensated for the losses they suffered," said Representative Jerrold Nadler ( D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) in a joint statement.
They plan to introduce bipartite legislation to restore cuts.
Senator Chuck Schumer said Friday that Congress should fully fund the Victims Compensation Fund.
"We fought and adopted the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund to give peace of mind to those who became sick after the horrible attack," Schumer said in a statement. a statement.
"Too often, illnesses and diseases resulting from exposure to this airborne toxic beer have taken years to manifest themselves and as the fund becomes more and more necessary it it is simply unacceptable not to have enough resources to take care of our heroes.
The fund plans to stop taking claims in December 2020.
Nearly 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda-hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon near Washington, and a Pennsylvania field.