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Overseer of 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Shares Challenges of His Position

Kenneth Feinberg, the Special Master of the original September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, recently spoke at length to students of Franklin Pierce University about the challenges of his position as part of a course offered by the university called “America and 9/11.” The class runs a full semester and takes an in-depth look at how people and public policy have been affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

University President Andrew H. Card, who was the White House Chief of Staff at the time the Victim Compensation Fund was created (just two weeks after the attacks), recommended Feinberg for the position and calls him a “real American hero.”

But for Feinberg, heroism comes with a price. Although he did an excellent job of figuring out how to get money to the families of victims to compensate them for the death of their loved ones, he says that the job took quite a toll when he consistently had to answer the question of what dollar amount to put on a person’s life.

Feinberg met with hundreds of families of victims to discuss how the government would be compensating their loss.  He discovered that family members were more interested in telling him about their deceased family members than hearing how Feinberg was going to compute a specific amount of money.  They were rarely concerned with how the VCF had calculated the compensation that they would receive. Instead, they would bring photos or videos, or vent to him about the unfairness of life. It deeply affected Feinberg, and kept him grounded as he considered the person who was the subject of every claim.

Today, Sheila Birnbaum is the new Special Manager.  She uses the same methodology as Mr Feinberg did.  People are still able to receive compensation through the Zadroga Victim Compensation Fund. If you believe you qualify for compensation, speak with a skilled New York lawyer at Barasch, McGarry, Salzman & Penson.  The firm represents more 9/11 victims before the Victim Compensation Fund than any other law firm in the country.  

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