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Federal aid for 9/11 illness sufferers hits $10 billion mark

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, depart at Ground Zero. (Brigitte Stelzer/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

The feds have doled out more than $10 billion to people suffering from 9/11-related health conditions, The New York Daily News has learned.

“They should be giving out another $10 billion if that’s what’s needed,” said retired Con Edison worker Cheryl Hall, who received compensation for a litany of illnesses linked to her time at Ground Zero. “We give out billions of dollars in aid to other countries like the Ukraine, they should give us a fighting chance too.”

The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed that the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund had given out $10 billion in aid as of June 6.

“The tragedy that this milestone represents is that more than 20 years after the attack there have been so many responders and survivors who were injured by the toxins at Ground Zero and there are more who will need to turn to the VCF and the World Trade Center Health Program in the coming years,” said Benjamin Chevat, Executive Director of 911 Health Watch.

Since it began 11 years ago, the fund has given monetary awards to 45,000 first responders and survivors still suffering from 9/11 illnesses decades after hijacked planes brought down the World Trade Center and crashed into the Pentagon and into an open field in Pennsylvania.

Hall, 56, received federal aid for gastroesophageal reflux disease, PTSD and asthma, conditions linked to the 17 days she spent at the site restoring power to lower Manhattan in the weeks following the terror attacks. She’s also expecting to receive compensation for Uterine cancer surgery, when it’s added to the list of 9/11 health conditions.

“(The federal money) was definitely a help, especially at the time when I applied for it, but when you are dealing with medical issues, the money goes so quick,” Hall said. “There are a lot of other people out there that still need the help.

“A lot of new illnesses linked to 9/11 are just showing up,” Hall added. “And as we’re getting older, we’re starting to feel certain things.”

The feds created the VCF in 2011 and initially set aside $7.3 billion in aid. But by 2018, with two years to go before the program was slated to end, the VCF had paid out almost all of the money they budgeted.

In July 2019, Congress fully funded the VCF to pay all eligible claims and extended the filing deadline to 2090 to ensure that every survivor with a 9/11 related illness receives some form of compensation.

By the end of May, nearly 75,000 compensation claims have been evaluated by the VCF. So far this year, 3,908 claims have already been submitted — about 5% of the total claims — thanks in part to the fund’s “If you were there, register!” campaign.

Last year, as the nation marked the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, registrations with the fund hit an all-time high and 1,000 new claims were submitted each month, according to the Fund’s annual report — showing that the number of incoming claims are not slowing down.

Reaching the $10 billion mark, “clearly demonstrates the ongoing necessity of the VCF’s vital mission, and the important and continuing need more than two full decades since the tragic events of 9/11,” said September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Interim Special Master August Flentje.


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