The federal fund that compensates victims of 9/11 is running out of money, its top administrator revealed on Wednesday.
Rupa Bhattacharyya, special master of the federal 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, said in a statement published in the Federal Register that the pool of more than $7 billion “may be insufficient to compensate all claims.”
By the end of last year, the fund had received 32,689 claims, according to the statement. The fund expects 6,614 additional claims.
The fund is seeking public input on how remaining reserves should be allocated, and asking guidance on specific questions — including which cancers and non-cancerous conditions should be reevaluated for compensation.
The 9/11 fund was reauthorized through multiple approvals of the Zadroga Act, which set aside $7.3 billion to compensate relatives of the dead and first responders and others who have suffered from work they did in around Ground Zero.
The reauthorizations were made in the name of NYPD Det. James Zadroga, who spent weeks working in World Trade Center rubble. He died in 2006 when he was just 34.
The detective’s family has insisted his health problems were the cause of lethal dust in the air around Ground Zero.
It's been estimated that more than 2,000 people have died from illnesses linked to work around the Twin Towers in the days and months after Sept. 11, 2001.
Five New York lawmakers — Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Peter King and Jerry Nadler — issued a joint statement calling for their congressional colleagues to allocate more money to the fund. (All but King are Democrats.)
"As today's notice shows, allowing this program to expire or and not fully funding the (fund) would be devastating for those with new claims and the undoubtedly high number of 9/11 first responders and survivors who have yet to be diagnosed with a Ground Zero-related illness," they said.
"It (allowing funds to run out) would send a cruel message that Congress is indifferent to our heroes’ suffering. Congress needs to fix this now before waiting until the last minute and putting our heroes through more suffering and anxiety over whether their federal government will stand with them in their time of need."