LOWER MANHATTAN — More than 1,000 Sept. 11 first responders sickened by the toxic dust clouds at Ground Zero are finally getting needed compensation checks for their ailments, officials said Tuesday.
The Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, a federally funded program — which was recently extended by Congress after months of pressure from survivors and elected officials — announced that full compensation was on the way to more than 1,000 first responders.
"In a perfect world, everyone would have already been paid," said John Feal, a 9/11 recovery worker who has worked tirelessly for federal benefits for those ailing in the aftermath of Sept. 11, "It's been a slow and painful process, but at least the process is now starting to work."
Three years ago, survivors, recovery workers and first responders who filed health claims began to receive a 10 percent cut of their full award. In February, and the next coming months, they'll finally be receiving their full award.
Feal, who works closely with Sheila Birnbaum, the administrator who oversees the fund, said 10,000 people are slated to be fully compensated by the summer. Another group of 10,000 will begin getting their payouts in September.
More than $1.8 billion for about 9,000 survivors and first responders has been awarded since payments started being made in January 2013, according to the fund.
In total, about 20,000 people sickened by a variety of 9/11 illnesses, including respiratory disease and cancer, applied for money to compensate them for their health problems.