Survivors of 9/11 left shocked by decision to slash victim compensation fund by up to 70 per cent

The decision comes at a time when the Victim Compensation Fund, which was set up in 2015, is running low on funds.


                            Survivors of 9/11 left shocked by decision to slash victim compensation fund by up to 70 per cent
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New Yorkers who were on Ground Zero in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attack that left 2,996 dead and over 6,000 injured, and who suffered long-term health issues because of the tons of toxic debris in the air have been informed that the federal government will be cutting compensation payouts by as much as 70 per cent.

According to the New York Daily News, 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya announced on February 15 that those who are currently applying for federal compensation will receive roughly half the money other survivors received a few years earlier. Furthermore, those that applied after February 1 will receive 70 per cent less compared to what was first given out when the fund was first established.

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Hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center and explodes at 9:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001, in New York City. The crash of two airliners hijacked by terrorists loyal to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and subsequent collapse of the twin towers killed some 2,800 people (Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center and explodes at 9:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001, in New York City. The crash of two airliners hijacked by terrorists loyal to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and subsequent collapse of the twin towers killed some 2,800 people (Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

 

The problem arose because the fund, which was set up in 2015, has already given out a vast portion of the $7.3 billion it started out with and now has a little over $2 billion left. This $2 billion now has to be spread out to those seeking compensation before the 2020 deadline.

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Speaking about the cuts, Jeff Goldberg, an attorney who represented dozens of first responders suffering from illnesses linked to their duties on Ground Zero, said, "It’s pretty outrageous, especially since more and more people are coming down with a serious illness connected to 9/11. It shows that everyone is forgetting that people are still suffering from the after-effects of 9/11."

Indeed, the New York Times reported that the toxic debris left in the wake of the attacks contained more than 2,500 contaminants, including known carcinogens. According to the BBC, exposure to the toxins contributed to fatal or debilitating illnesses amongst approximately 18,000 people who were at Ground Zero at the time of the attack or even in the weeks following it — the EPA determined the air quality returned to pre-September 11 levels only in June 2002.

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Exposure to the toxins contributed to fatal or debilitating illnesses amongst approximately 18,000 people who were at Ground Zero at the time of the attack or even in the weeks following it (Source: Jose Jimenez/Primera Hora/Getty Images)
Exposure to the toxins contributed to fatal or debilitating illnesses amongst approximately 18,000 people who were at Ground Zero at the time of the attack or even in the weeks following it (Source: Jose Jimenez/Primera Hora/Getty Images)

 

Gerald Fitzgerald, the president of the United Firefighters Association, also criticized the cuts and labeled them as "immoral." "Though money doesn’t replace the victims’ lives cut short or adversely impacted by 9-11, it does help ease the tremendous burden of financial distress caused by the loss of life or the chronic injuries sustained by first responders," he said. 

Ed Mullins, the president of the NYPD's Sergeant Benevolent Association, similarly slammed the decision. "Washington has changed a lot since the terror attacks and I don’t think they truly understand how seriously 9/11 had impacted first responders," he said. "(Cutting the funding) is very disingenuous and disheartening to those suffering. They don’t understand the seriousness of what’s going on."

NY Daily News reported that, however, there are currently efforts ongoing at Capitol Hill to extend and fully fund the VCF, which insiders said would require an additional $8 billion to provide appropriate compensation for all current and future claimants.