NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - The federal fund that compensates victims of 9/11 is running out of money. That’s why a team of 9/11 advocates are headed to Washington, D.C. to make sure lawmakers step up and pay up.
We all remember what we said on 9/11: "never forget."
But it seems that some legislators in Washington, D.C. have forgotten.
"While we get 75 years of healthcare, now we get 72. We only get five years on the compensation, the VCF. And that expires in December of 2020 but we’re not gonna make it till then because there’s not enough money to make it then," said John Feal.
That’s why Feal, a 9/11 advocate; and retired FDNY Deputy Chief Richard Alles are making sure that lawmakers understand cancer and other 9/11 diseases know no deadline.
"We think it is. The federal government underestimated the amount of people that were going to come down with illnesses," said Alles.
"The population pool is potentially 425,000 people. That’s first responders -about 90,000- and the rest were anybody that lived or worked in the downtown area. So, at the time $7.3 billion maybe seemed like a lot of money, but there’ve been 35,000 claims submitted already to theVCF and we’re talking about people that have come down with horrendous illnesses, cancers, people that are dying. There has to bea benefit to those families because there wage earner is no longer with us."
Since the 2011 Zadroga Act reauthorized the VCF, dedicatng the $7.3 billion to compensate relatives of the dead and those who suffered physical harm in the attacks or in the debris removal that took place in the subsequent months.
According to Feal, 90,000 first responders showed up at the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the attack from all across the country.
An additional 400,000 survivors lived and worked in the area at the time.
Of that number, about only 55,000 first responders and fewer than 20,000 survivors have registered with the WTC Health Program — meaning thousands more could be signing up in the next few years meaning many may get less money than those who filed earlier with the same problems.
"The February 1st deadline is real, it’s starts the clock ticking to December 2020; that there’s not enough money. They’re going to do whatever it takes to cut corners and reduce claims so everybody can get something. But it’s our job to ensure that everybody gets their full amount, and we’re gonna make that happen," said Feal.
Feal and his crew want senators to suport a bi- partisian bill, asking for the VCF to be fully funded and made permanent saying while many law makers talk patriotism the true act will happen when all first reponders are awarded what is owed.
"We ate there, we slept there, we cried there, we went to the bathroom there, we worked there. We no longer have to prove that 9/11 made us sick, anybody who doubts us has to prove that 9/11 didn’t make us sick. We’ve already been through that, we’ve been down that road. But for those who are still suffering, and those who are going to die in the near future, Congress, the Senate, the administration, has the responsibility to still, 17, 18, 19 years later, to continue to ensure that these men and women, uniform or non-uniform were taken care of," said Feal.