September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Kenneth L. Zwick, Director
Office of Management Programs
U.S. Department of Justice
Main Building, Room 3140
950 Pennsylavania 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 Victims 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 , 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
We would request an approach like that used in personal injury actions. Retirement should be set at age 68. The decedent'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.
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 this 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, IRS's and 401k plans should not be deducted from the fund's recovery
amount. These plans were responsibly sacrificed for and saved for by '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, 's 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 counry 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 opinion 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.