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Author
Deepti Hajela
Date
July 3, 2014

9/11 health fund picks up decision-making pace

NEW YORK (AP) — The fund that compensates people with illnesses related to the Sept. 11 attacks released data on Thursday for the last six months showing it has picked up the pace of evaluating applications after a slow start that drew criticism last year.

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund figures show that as of the end of June, compensation decisions had been made for 1,145 claims, with a total dollar value of more than $322 million. Congress appropriated $2.78 billion for the fund.

Last November, the fund was criticized after making only 112 compensation decisions in its first 11 months of issuing payments.

Special Master Sheila Birnbaum attributed last year’s slow start to bureaucratic issues as well as a huge surge of applications coming in to meet a deadline. On Thursday, she said the fund was continuing to work on its procedures and staffing to increase processing efficiency, including hiring a team of people to deal solely with processing initial payments.

Overall, as of June 30, the fund has received 15,600 applications. Nearly 7,000 were incomplete and most of the remainder were deemed eligible for compensation.

Once someone is deemed eligible, the review for compensation amounts begins. Of the cases that had made it through the eligibility process, the fund said it received 2,262 completed compensation requests. Just over 1,100 are still under review.

The highest dollar amount awarded was $4.1 million, and the lowest was $10,000. The average was just under $282,000.

It’s unclear how much compensation people will actually end up getting. Officials don’t know for certain how many people will apply to the fund, meaning amounts awarded now could get prorated in the future. Those receiving money are getting only a percentage now, with the remainder to come later after final determinations are made.

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