NEW YORK (AP) — A special fund set up by Congress to compensate people who got sick after being exposed to toxic World Trade Center dust following Sept. 11 is making its first round of payments, with the initial payouts going to a group of 15 first responders with respiratory problems.
The administrator who oversees the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, Sheila Birnbaum, announced Tuesday that the fund was finally poised to process payouts, after a deliberate start in which officials figured out how the program would work and lawyers pieced together documentation for at least 16,000 applications.
The first round of payments, most of which have been offered to firefighters, range from $10,000 to a high of $1.5 million.
Birnbaum declined to identify the recipients by name or say much about their illnesses, citing privacy concerns. She said their health problems range from “serious” to “not so serious,” and that the people getting the larger awards tended to be younger, and to have suffered more severe economic losses.
The people offered lower amounts include some who have already received other compensation for their illnesses, including shares of a civil settlement for thousands of firefighters, police officers and construction workers who had sued over the lack of protective equipment at ground zero.