Most 9/11 Families Opt For Fund

An American flag flutters over Ground Zero in New York City Tuesday Sept. 10, 2002 as the sun sets. Tommorrow marks the one year anniverssary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Ninety-eight percent of the families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks have applied for federal compensation, the special master of a government fund said Friday.

Kenneth Feinberg said 2,925 families have applied. The official death count was 2,976.

Families of 30 victims have taken no action, and the remainder are litigating their claims in federal court, said Feinberg, who spoke at the Justice Department after receiving a medal for his efforts from Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Feinberg, who worked without compensation, said some 4,300 injury claims have been filed for the fund's tax-free awards.

The deadline for filing claims expired last month. All claims must be paid by June 15.

Payments for families of those killed have ranged from the minimum of $250,000 to nearly $7 million, while awards for those injured were between $500 and $7.8 million. The highest award went to a burn victim.

Feinberg estimated that $5 billion eventually would be paid from the fund.

He said the program was successful "because families realized this was no trick, no hidden effort to hide anything. It was a generous, compassionate effort of the United States to reach out (to victims)."

In awarding death benefits, Feinberg must consider both the victim's age and potential lost income in calculating the size of an award. In general, this means that the younger and the more highly paid a victim was, the more his family could expect.

But Feinberg must also consider other factors including life insurance and pensions, that could affect the size of an individual award.