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WASHINGTON, D.C. After numerous meetings with family members and other interested groups along with the review of thousands of public comments over the past few months, Special Master Kenneth R. Feinberg today announced the Final Rule for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The Fund was created by Congress to provide victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks with an alternative to the long and costly civil litigation process. Those eligible to receive compensation include representatives of victims who died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

"Over the past few months, the Department and the Special Master have worked tirelessly to develop a Fund that is sensitive and fair to those who are suffering as a result of the terrorist attacks on our country," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "I believe this goal has been achieved."

While the congressional act requires certain deductions from collateral source monies life insurance, pensions, etc., it did allow the Special Master discretion in calculating the appropriate deduction. As a result of the extensive review conducted during the comment period by the Department and Special Master, the Final Rule allows the offsets to be minimized and, in turn, increase the awards to the claimants. Although the legislation does not permit the creation of a mandatory minimum pay out for all eligible claimants after the deductions, the Special Master believes it will be very rare that a claimant will receive less than $250,000.

Under the Final Rule, the amount of non-economic loss compensation will be increased by providing that the presumed awards will include $100,000, rather than $50,000, for the spouse and each dependent of a deceased victim. This amount is in addition to the $250,000 presumed non-economic award for each deceased victim.

Physical harm requirements for eligibility are lessened in some circumstances, allowing more people access to the Fund. The time period for obtaining medical treatment is increased from 24 hours to 72 hours for certain victims. Additionally, the Final Rule makes clear the Special Master's discretion on a case-by-case basis to extend the time period even further for certain rescue workers.

"Without the assistance of the Justice Department and members of Congress, as well as other public officials, we could not have otherwise succeeded in our efforts," said Special Master Feinberg.

The Special Master office began processing claims for Advanced Benefits in December. Claim Assistance Centers are located in Manhattan, New York; Arlington, Virginia; Boston; Jersey City, New Jersey; Melville, L.I., New York; Metro Park, New Jersey; and Stamford, Connecticut. Claimants may also call 1-888-714-3385 (Toll-Free) or 202-305-1352 and TDD: 1-888-560-0844.

A copy of the Final Rule will be available at the Department of Justice website at