The U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund was established in 2015 to compensate people injured in acts of international state-sponsored terrorism. It allocated about $3.3 billion in payments across three rounds—in 2017, 2019, and 2020.
Certain 9/11 victims, spouses, and dependents became eligible for the Fund in 2019. Legislation in 2020 required the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to estimate the amount of “catch-up” payments—lump sums for newly eligible groups to align with payments that other 9/11 family members got in rounds 1 and 2. Such catch-up payments would still require authorization in law.
GAO estimated that these lump sum catch-up payments to 5,364 9/11 victims, spouses, and dependents would total about $2.7 billion. This amount would result in the proportion of payments provided for claims submitted by 9/11 victims, spouses, and dependents to be equal to the proportion of payments provided for claims submitted by 9/11 family members (for example, a nondependent sibling or parent). GAO estimated that the amount of payments that 9/11 family members received (about $1.2 billion), as a percentage of their net eligible claims during the first two rounds of the Fund distributions (about $19.7 billion), was 5.8573 percent. GAO applied the percentage to the net eligible claims of 9/11 victims, spouses, and dependents (about $45.3 billion) to estimate the lump sum catch-up payments.
GAO also estimated that, if authorized, lump sum catch-up payments to these 5,364 9/11 victims, spouses, and dependents would vary widely based on their net eligible claims and other factors, such as court awarded compensation related to the act of international terrorism that gave rise to a claimant’s final judgement.
Estimated lump sum catch-up payments could vary across all groups, for example:
- Victims: The minimum amount is $45,056 and maximum amount is $1,171,460, with an average of $445,634;
- Spouses: The minimum amount is $281,601 and maximum amount is $732,163, with an average of $675,423; and
- Dependents: The minimum amount is $179,644 and maximum amount is $497,871, with an average of $432,303.
GAO said payments would vary for individuals based on a number of factors, including, for example, compensation received by individuals from other sources, such as payments already paid on a claimant’s judgment and the amount of their net eligible claims.