© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The head of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund steps down

Tribute in Light, two vertical columns of light representing the fallen towers of the World Trade Center shine against the lower Manhattan skyline on the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Stefan Jeremiah
Associated Press

The head of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund is stepping down after almost six years on the job. The federal fund to help victims of the terror attacks processed 40,000 claims and paid out $8 billion while Rupa Bhattacharyya was at the helm.

Bhattacharyya took over as Special Master of the Fund in 2016. She was criticized for slashing payments as the fund’s coffers dwindled, until 2019 when Congress passed a law to make the fund permanent.

John Feal of the Long Island-based FealGood Foundation praised Bhattacharyya for her efforts to reduce the wait time for victims to receive an award down to about 12 months.

“I just pray that the DOJ replaces her with somebody who can carry on what she created,” Feal said, “because when she first took over, the system was broken. And they implemented a system that is working.”

Feal said she will be missed by the 9/11 victim community, and he hopes her replacement will continue to chip away at wait times.

“I am honored to have worked with her, and I especially admire her compassion for those sickened by the 9/11 toxins,” said Michael Barasch of Barasch & McGarry, a firm that has helped tens of thousands of victims file claims with the fund.

A statement from the fund said Bhattacharyya’s departure should not cause any delays in claims or payments. Attorney General Merrick Garland has not yet appointed a replacement.

Bhattacharyya will leave “at the end of this month for a position with Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection,” according to the statement.

She has served in the federal government for 26 years.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.