Slow Payments of 9/11 Health Fund

The federal fund for people with illnesses related to the Sept. 11 attacks said Friday it has been able to issue compensation decisions to only 112 people out of nearly 55,000 who have applied so far — a performance one advocacy group called unacceptable, reports The Associated Press.

In her second annual report, Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund special master Sheila Birnbaum said her staff had spent much of the year resolving bureaucratic problems and dealing with a surge in applications that arrived as people exposed to dust at the World Trade Center raced to beat an October deadline.

The fund has been able to award only $27.2 million of the $2.78 billion appropriated by Congress.

Little of that money has actually reached people, because of a decision to hold back 90 percent of the cash until administrators know whether they will have enough in the fund to pay all claims.

The slow pace has upset some advocates for the sick.

It also raises questions about whether the fund has the resources to handle the mountain of applications.

Birnbaum said that she believed the fund’s staff and lawyers representing applicants had overcome some of the issues that initially caused things to get bogged down.

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