Officials Still Unsure Of How Many Will Apply For Aid From $2.78 Billion Fund

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A special fund set up by Congress is making its first payments to people who got sick after being exposed to toxic dust at the World Trade Center.

A group of 15 first responders with respiratory problems will be the first to get awards from the 9/11 victim compensation fund.  All of them except one individual are firefighters.

Their payouts range from $10,000 to $1.5 million. It will be years, though, before the group sees all that money.

Sheila Birnbaum, Special Master of the fund, said only about 10 percent of the total amount per person will be distributed now.

“People getting these letters will have 30 days in which to either accept the award or they can appeal the award if they think we haven’t given them enough,” Birnbaum told WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola.

Officials don’t yet know how many people will apply for aid from the $2.78 billion fund, or the severity of their illnesses.

That means they can’t yet calculate each person’s share. So for now, applicants are only getting 10 percent of their award.

John Feal worked at the World Trade Center site and is head of the group FealGood Foundation, which has been fighting for help for the first-responders.

“It’s a big relief and while it’s a relief, there’s so much more work to do,” Feal said.

Those who are eligible can apply until October 3.

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