Image: Kenneth Feinberg
Alex Wong  /  Getty Images file
Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the BP Oil Spill Victim Compensation Fund, testifies during a hearing on Capitol Hills on July 22, 2010.
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updated 9/28/2010 4:07:34 PM ET 2010-09-28T20:07:34

Five weeks after taking over the oil spill damage claims from BP, and after widespread criticism of delaysin processing applications, claims czar Kenneth Feinberg said his operation had eliminated the backlog of older claims that had been sitting in the system unpaid.

“There is virtually now no backlog,” Feinberg told us this morning. “We are now current with any of the older claims.”

The latest statistics from his operationindicate that nearly 39,000 claims have been paid or approved, another roughly 27,000 have been flagged for inadequate documentation, and almost 8,700 are under review. “The only backlog we have now in the system," Feinberg said, "is claims that have come in over the last few days,” as well as the large number of insufficiently documented claims that he said his organization is unable to process.

However, some applicants in our BP Claims Project said that their claims are still waiting in limbo even though they filed with Feinberg’s operation more than a month ago.

Marcia Mandel, who filed a claim on Aug 24 for lost income on behalf of her hotel, the Marco Island Lakeside Inn, said that her application was still under review. She said she had been told by Feinberg’s organization that her documentation was complete, but that even after sending them disconnect notices from the water and electricity companies last week, she had not gotten a decision.

“Saying the backlog is gone is nonsense,” Mandel said.

Other claimants, in telephone conversations and comments on our website, reported that they had gotten paid in the last few days, but not always for the amount that they had requested.

Feinberg said that his organization’s progress in paying claims came from increased efficiency, and that his operation was “now turning over in excess of 2,000 claims a day.”

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But for those whose claims are still outstanding, Feinberg’s statement that the backlog had been eliminated raised more questions than they answered. Jon Faulkner, who filed a claim on Aug. 25 for lost wages as a charter boat skipper, said that he had been assured by Feinberg’s operation that his claim was complete, but that he was still awaiting a response.

“They assured me there’s nothing wrong with my claim, but I haven’t heard from them,” Faulkner said. “I don’t know if I’ve fallen through the cracks.”

© Copyright 2012 ProPublica Inc. All rights reserved.

Video: Kenneth Feinberg admits BP ‘let claims sit’

Photos: Month 4

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  1. The Blue Dolphin, left, and the HOS Centerline, the ships supplying the mud for the static kill operation on the Helix Q4000, are seen delivering mud through hoses at the site of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, on Aug. 3, 2010. In the background is the Development Driller III, which is drilling the primary relief well. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Eddie Forsythe and Don Rorabough dump a box of blue crabs onto a sorting table at B.K. Seafood in Yscloskey, La., on Aug. 3, 2010. The crabs were caught by fisherman Garet Mones. Commercial and recreational fishing has resumed, with some restrictions in areas that were closed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (Chuck Cook / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Sea turtle hatchlings that emerged from eggs gathered on the northern Gulf Coast of Florida are released at Playalinda Beach on the Canaveral National Seashore near Titusville, Fla., on Aug. 2, 2010. The sea turtles were born at a Kennedy Space Center incubation site, where thousands of eggs collected from Florida and Alabama beaches along the Gulf of Mexico have been sent. (Craig Rubadoux / Florida Today via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A crab, covered with oil, walks along an oil absorbent boom near roso-cane reeds at the South Pass of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana on Aug. 1, 2010. BP is testing the well to see if it can withstand a "static kill" which would close the well permanently. (Pool / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A boat motors through a sunset oil sheen off East Grand Terre Island, where the Gulf of Mexico meets Barataria Bay on the La. coast, on the evening of July 31. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Oil approaches a line of barges and boom positioned to protect East Grand Terre Island, partially seen at top right, on July 31. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is seen near an unprotected island in the Gulf of Mexico near Timbalier Bay, off the coast of Louisiana on Wednesday, July 28. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Greenpeace activists stand outside a BP gas station in London, England, on July 27 after they put up a fence to cut off access. Several dozen BP stations in London were temporarily shut down to protest the Gulf spill. (Leon Neal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. James Wilson sells T-shirts to those arriving in Grand Isle, La., for the music festival Island Aid 2010 on July 24. (Dave Martin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Activists covered in food coloring made to look like oil protest BP's Gulf oil spill in Mexico City on July 22. The sign at far left reads in Spanish "Petroleum kills animals." (Alexandre Meneghini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. People in Lafayette, La., wear "Keep Drilling" tee shirts at the "Rally for Economic Survival" opposing the federal ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, July 21. Supporters at the rally want President Obama to lift the moratorium immediately to protect Louisiana's jobs and economy. (Ann Heisenfelt / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A flock of white ibis lift off from marsh grass on Dry Bread Island in St. Bernard Parish, La., July 21. Crews found about 130 dead birds and 15 live birds affected by oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on July 19 in the eastern part of the parish behind the Chandeleur Islands. (Patrick Semansky / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the BP Oil Spill Victim Compensation Fund testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on July 21 in Washington, D.C. The hearing was to examine the claim process for victims of the Gulf Coast oil spill. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. An American white pelican has its wings checked during a physical examination at Brookfield Zoo’s Animal Hospital by Michael Adkesson and Michael O’Neill on July 21. The bird, along with four other pelicans, was rescued from the Gulf Coast oil spill and will be placed on permanent exhibit at the zoo. (Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Native people of the Gwich'in Nation form a human banner on the banks of the Porcupine River near Ft. Yukon, Alaska July 21, in regard to the BP oil spill with a message to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil development. The images include a Porcupine caribou antler and a threatened Yukon River Salmon. (Camila Roy / Spectral Q via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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