September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Kenneth L. Zwick,
Office of Management Programs
U.S. Department of Justice
Main Building, Room 3140
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
Re Victims Compensation Fund
Dear Mr Zwick:
I am writing this letter to you on behalf of      , whose husband,
was killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. This letter to you is in
response to your request for comments about the Victims Compensation Fund.
The Victims Compensation Fund's interest is to attempt to make whole the families
of the victims. To this end, I would like to voice my support, for the following comments, which are
also being made by other advocates for the families.
OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD
First, and formost, the fund should provide a complete and full opportunity for each
family to be heard, should they choose to do so. Each family rightfully deserves the opportunity
to be fairly heard before a hearing officer. They should have to present evidence
through their own testimony and the testimony of expert witness. Each case should be
considered on a case-by-case basis.
RIGHT TO APPEAL AND FORM OF PAYMENT
Secondly, there should be a right to appeal. Additionally, the payments should be in one
lump sum, and be paid to the beneficiary, consistent with what the investment cousel is
Kennith L. Zwick
the best for individual family circumstances. Thus, for example, parents should be allowed to
request that any payment made to minor children to be in trust. In addition, the parent of said
minor children should determine the date of vesting. The trust should not automatically be paid
to the child at the age of 18, unless the parents determine it is in the children's own best interests
to do so.
Third, and of paramount importance, is the computation of economic losses. There
should be no cap placed upon this portion of recovery. Simply put, no one should be penalized
because their spouse worked long, hard hours and earned a "good salary".
An approach like that used in personal injury actions is most appropriate. Retirement
should be set at age 68. The decedent's income should be averaged over the past 3 working
years. The decendent age should be subtracted from 68. Those numbers should be multipled
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.
NON ECONOMIC LOSSES
Fourth, with regard to the non-economic losses of the fund, there should be absolutely be
no cap on this amount. Each person's circumstances must be evaluated individually. Each case
should take into account age of the decedent, martial status of the decedent, and the numbers and
age of the decedents'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
Compensation for non-economic losses is crucial for the survival of some families. Any
family who has a considerable amount of coverage in life insurance will need some incentive to
enter the fund, especially if life insurance proceeds will be deducted from any recovery.
Finally, the amount of collateral source recovery, used to offset any amount recovered
from the funds should be limited. Life insurance brought and paid for by the decedent should not
be deducted from the fund payments. Simply put, life insurance is not taxed by the IRS for one
reason-it encourages people to plan for their heirs. To deduct personal life insurance from fund
payments would penalize those who were responsible estate planners.
Kennith L. Zwick
To the extent that the statue requires life insurance to be deducted from any recovery, the
regulations should limit the reduction to employer life insurance.
Moreover, IRS's, 401k plans and defined contributions retirement plans should not be
deducted from the fund's recovery amount. These plans were primarily saved for by the victims.
They are in reality savings accounts, and they should not be deducted from the fund any more
than other assets saved by the victims should be deducted.
With regard to charity, Americans across this country donated their-earned money
as a symbol of their patriotism, and our brotherhood as a nation. To deduct this charity money
from any final payment would, simply be wrong.
In closing, I would like to thank you for asking for and considering our comments from
families of the victims.
New York, NY