September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Kenneth L. Zwick,Director
Office of Management Programs
U.S. Department of Justice
Main Building, Room 3140
950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20530
Dear Mr. Zwick:
We write this letter to you as friends of      , whose husband
was an employee of      who was killed at the World Trade Center
on September 11.      gave birth to twin girls      and      on
September 15, and their son      turned 2 on September 22. We are very
concerned that while formulating the regulations for the Victim Compensation
Fund, you take into account the following:
OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD
First and foremost, we are concerned that      and her children will not be
given a complete and full opportunity to be heard, should they choose to do so.
Each survivor rightfully deserves the opportunity to be fairly heard before a
hearing officer. The survivors should have the occasion to present evidence
through their own testimony and the testimony of expert witnesses. Each of their
cases should be considered on a case-by case basis. For Andrea, being given
the right to be heard is a crucial and extremely valuable part of her healing
process. We hope you understand this.
RIGHT TO APPEAL AND FORM OF PAYMENT
Secondly, we would like the survivors to have the right to appeal, but in addition,
we believe the payment should be in one lump sum, and be paid out to the
beneficiary, consistent with what investment advisors recommend as the best for
their individual family circumstances. For example, the survivors should be
allowed to request that any payment made to minor children should be in trust.
The parent should determine the date of vesting. The trust should not
automatically vest at the age of 18, unless the parent determines it is in the best
interest of the child to do so.
Third, and of paramount importance to the survivors, is the computation of
economic losses. We are strongly against any cap being placed on this portion
of recovery. Simply put, no one should be penalized because his or her spouse
worked long, hard hours and earned a "good salary."
We would request an approach like that used in personal injury actions.
Retirement should be set at age 68. The decendent's income should be averaged
over the past 3 working years. The decedent's age should be subtracted from
68. Those two numbers should be multiplied together, thereby gleaning a
starting point for computation. From this base point, other factors such as
inflation, wage-increases, merit, likely bonuses and advancement and any other
benefits should be considered.
Fourth,with regard to non-economic losses, there should be absolutely no cap
on this amount. Each person's circumstances must be evaluated individually.
Each case should take into account the age of the decedent, marital status of the
decedent, and the amount and age of the decedent's children, the severity of the
pain and suffering of each affected individual (both mental and physical),
including the person injured or killed, the spouse, the children and the parents.
Compensation for non-economic losses is crucial for the survival of some
families like the firemen and policemen's. Those families will need a substantial
amount of money to be offered in the section to entice them to enter the fund.
Likewise, any family who has a considerable amount of coverage in life
insurance will need some incentive to enter the fund, since life insurance
proceeds will be deducted from any recovery.
We certainly hope that any non-economic recovery from this fund would be
generous in light of the terrible circumstances of September 11th.
Finally, with regard to collateral sources, we are very concerned about their use
to offset any amount recovered from the fund. Life insurance should not be
deducted from fund payments. Life insurance is not taxed by the IRS for one
reason-it encourages people to plan for their heirs. To deduct any life
insurance from fund payments would penalize those who were merely
responsible estate planners. The decedents sacrificed and saved hard-earned
money to pay for such plans; they are already victims once. Please don't make
them victims twice.
Moreover, pension fund, IRA's and 401k plans should not be deducted from the
fund's recovery amount. These plans were responsibly sacrificed for and saved
for by Andrea's husband. They are essentially savings accounts, and they
should not be deducted from any recovery from the fund.
With regard to charity, Americans across this country donated their hard-earned
money as a symbol of their patriotism, and our brotherhood as a nation. To
deduct this charity money from any final payment would be wrong. Donations
made to      family and others like hers were generously and
selflessly given to them as a form of healing for both the donor and the receiver.
Every single dollar donated and received gives each of us hope for tomorrow and
belief in our country as a united whole. Please do not denigrate this beautiful
symbol of our nation standing together as one.
In closing, we would like to sincerely thank you for considering our option about
the Victims Compensation Fund, something that will have an enormous and
tremendous bearing on the lives of our friend,      , her infant
daughters      and      , her toddler son      , and thousands of other
survivors. We can only ask you to please keep them in your hearts during the
weeks ahead as decisions are made that profoundly affect them.