The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is cutting its payouts in half for some and by as much as 70 percent for others, as the fund faces a surge in claims ahead of its expiration date in December 2020.
The fund, which was opened in 2011, compensates for deaths and illnesses due to exposure to toxins at the sites of the Sept. 11 attacks. The $7.3 billion fund has already paid out about $5 billion to 21,000 claimants. But it still has about 19,000 additional unpaid claims to address.
With resources rapidly dwindling, the fund said any pending claims will be paid at 50 percent of their prior value. Claims received after Feb. 1 of this year will be paid at 30 percent.
"Most Americans have moved on over the last 18 years, and rightfully so," Feal told NPR. "But for those who are deeply effected by 9/11, and are waiting for claims, this day hasn't ended for them. 9/11 continues"
Nearly 40,000 people have applied to the federal fund for people with illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the 2001 terror attacks there, and about 19,000 of those claims are pending. Nearly $5 billion in benefits have been awarded out of the $7.3 billion fund.
Scientists can't say definitively whether toxins at the site gave people cancer. One study published last year found that overall mortality rates among nearly 30,000 rescue and recovery workers weren't elevated. But researchers have raised concern an unusual number of suicides among first responders and more deaths than expected from brain cancers and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.