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Devastating! Payouts from 9/11 Victims Fund to be cut by up to 70 percent

February 15, 2019 - 3:10 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The 9/11 Victims Fund is running out of money.

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The administrator of the fund announced on Friday, that amid a surge of new claims, future payouts will be cut in half and in some cases by 70 percent.

To date, the fund has paid out about $5 billion to roughly 21,000 victims, but only $2 billion remains for them and the thousands expected to apply before the 2020 expiration date.

Advocates and lawmakers are expected to propose new legislation soon to keep the fund alive without re-authorization.

"If I could find one word, it's devastating," said 9/11 advocate John Feal, who runs the FealGood Foundation, "It's crushing. A lot of people are going to be hurt by this."

There are a number of things fueling the shortfall, including a jump in the number of victims dying -- January 2019, saw a 235 percent surge in deaths.

Cancer claims are on the rise as well. In 2018, there were 8,000 eligible cancer claims, which accounted for a third of all claims, the Daily News reports.

"The number of people coming forward with illnesses and cancers related to their exposure to toxins at Ground Zero grows every single day," said Benjamin Chevat, executive director of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act. "Every other day another 9/11 responder or survivor reportedly dies from a 9/11 related cancer."

The increase in deaths has happened alongside a surge in survivors applying. The latest data shows survivors make up 35 percent of claims.

"The magnitude of the 9/11 cancer problem, though obvious today, was not entirely known in 2015 when the VCF reauthorization was funded," Chevat said.

Feal said the only thing to blame is '9/11 itself.'

"It's a harsh realty of a day that has not ended because 9/11 keeps releasing toxic poisons that are still killing people," he said.

The Daily News reports, that advocates and lawmakers are expected to roll out legislation that will not have to be reauthorized every five years.