Mark Lennihan / AP
The September 11 Victims Compensation Fund cuts its dividends by half and others by up to 70 percent, as the fund faces a rise in claims before its December 2020 expiration date
The 2011 opened fund compensates for deaths and illnesses due to poison exposures at the sites of the attacks of September 11, 19459024 . The $ 7.3 billion fund has already paid approximately $ 5 billion to 21,000 applicants. However, it still has about 19,000 additional unpaid claims that need to be addressed.
With resources rapidly declining, the fund said that outstanding claims are being paid 50 percent of their previous value. Claims received after February 1 of this year will be paid at 30 percent.
"I am painfully aware of the injustice of the situation," wrote Fund Administrator Rupa Bhattacharyya on Friday in an announcement. "… but the rigorous reality of the data leaves me no choice, and if another option was available to me, I can assure you that I took it."
In October, Bhattacharyya announced that the fund assets declined. Since then, around 8,000 new claims have been claimed, which is equivalent to the number of claims the Fund normally receives in a single year.
This, according to Bhattacharyya, is not the only decisive factor.
She said that since December 2015, the number of claims by family members on behalf of relatives who died of illnesses related to the September 11 attacks has increased by 235 percent. Bhattacharyya said the number of cancer applications has also increased with those who have lived, worked or gone to school near the point of attack.
"From the beginning there has never been a good estimate of how many potential applicants there are, in part because there has never been a good estimate of how many people were exposed, especially in the New York City area," Bhattacharyya said.
She also cited the rise in cancer latency claims. "Some of the diseases that could be caused by exposure to the airborne toxins in the New York City region may not be seen for several years," Bhattacharyya told NPR.
The announcement has aroused the shock and outrage of September 11 responders, their families and victim advocates like John Feal.
In 2001, Feal worked as a demolition chief at Ground Zero when an 8,000 pound piece of steel crushed his foot. Feal almost died when the subsequent infected wound became septic. The accident cost Feal half of his foot and job.
Feal told the NPR he was upset by the news of reduced payouts.
"I cried, it was devastating," he said. "Thousands of people will suffer as they already suffer … Congress continues to set deadlines, arbitrary dates in our legislation, which we have now passed a few times, but these diseases – cancer and respiratory diseases – have no deadlines."  Some members of Congress want to top up the Fund and extend their mandate beyond the 2020 deadline. In a statement, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, DN.Y .:
"The cancer rates in the 9/11 First Responder community are rising higher than ever, which means the VCF is more important than ever can not say, "Sorry, we do not have the money for you." We can not turn our back on this hero – not now, never. "The reminder of 9/11 should be more than a bumper sticker, and that's why I'll soon reintroduce the two parties, along with Senator Cory Gardner, to ensure that the men and women injured by the toxins at Ground Zero will never forget. "
Thomas O & Connor , President of the FBI Agents Association, told the NPR that such legislation would "do the right thing for the people on September 11, our worst terrorist attack."
Fifteen FBI agents died of illness on their service were returned after 9/11, and w The other 30 were affected by illnesses related to their 9/11 exposure.
"You have not thought twice about visiting and working on these sites, and we should not think twice about helping them and their families in times of need," said O & Connor.
He and Feal are now pushing for an extension of the fund until 2090, in line with the duration of the World Trade Center Health program, which offers medical benefits to people affected by the September 11 attacks.
"Most Americans have rightfully continued in the last 18 years," Feal told NPR. "But for those who are deeply affected by September 11th and are waiting for claims, this day is not over for them, September 11th continues."