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Chapter 5 Financial Assistance for Victims of Crime
(Section 3 Supplement)


Federal Legislation for Victims of International Terrorism

Direct compensation from the federal government to victims of international terrorism was augmented in 2000 through the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 and Part B of that Act, The Violence Against Women Act of 2000.

  • Provisions of the Victims of Crime Act were amended to authorize the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to make supplemental grants to states, victim service organizations, and public agencies to provide emergency relief and ongoing assistance during the investigation and trial to victims of terrorist acts or mass violence occurring outside the United States (P.L. 101-222).

  • Victim of terrorism was further defined to mean a person who is a national of the United States or an officer or employee of the U.S. government who is injured or killed as a result of a terrorist act or mass violence occurring outside the United States (Ibid.).

  • The cap on the emergency reserve fund was increased and the fund placed at the Director of OVC's discretion. The Director of OVC is authorized to use the emergency reserve to carry out a program to compensate victims of acts of international terrorism that occur outside the United States for expenses associated with the victimization (P.L. 106-386).

Terrorism and International Victims Unit at the Office for Victims of Crime

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has created the Terrorism and International Victims Unit (TIVU) to help victims of terrorism, mass violence, and such international crimes as trafficking of women and children and child abduction. In addition, OVC's expanded authority to address the needs of international terrorism victims pursuant to the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 provides TIVU with resources to respond to incidents of terrorism outside the United States through several venues.

Some of the resources and services provided by TIVU include:

  • Administration of the International Terrorism Victims Compensation Program, which allows U.S. nationals and federal government employees who are victims of terrorism abroad to apply to a single federal office for compensation.

  • The maintenance of an International Crime Victim Compensation Program Directory in collaboration with the State Department that links victims abroad to available resources and lists crime victim compensation programs in various foreign countries.

  • The Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program for Terrorism and Mass Violence Victims. OVC has developed guidelines to provide compensation and assistance to victims of acts of terrorism or mass violence within the United States and assistance to U.S. citizens and government employees who are victims of terrorism and mass violence abroad (OVC 2002).

September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001

Title IV of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act of 2001 establishes the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, an unprecedented move on the part of the U.S. government to address the economic and noneconomic losses of victims of a specific act of terrorism. However, claimants who apply for compensation from the Fund agree to not seek damages for their losses through litigation with the airlines or the airport security firms. The final rules that govern the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 were published on March 6, 2002 (P.L. 107-42).

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is a unique federal program created by Congress and paid for by the U.S. taxpayers in recognition of the tragic circumstances that the victims of 9/11 and their families face. Under the rules of the Act, the Fund is authorized to compensate any individual or the personal representative of a deceased individual who was physically injured or killed as a result of terrorist-related aircraft crashes on September 11, 2001, or during the immediate aftermath (up to seventy-two hours after the attack). The creators of the Fund intended to help the neediest victims as quickly as possible.

  • An eligible claimant can receive an immediate advance payment of $50,000 in cases involving death or $25,000 in cases involving serious injury.

The Act authorizes the Special Master of the Fund, Kenneth Feinberg, to examine both economic and noneconomic harm suffered in light of the claimant's individual circumstances. In his statement of intent on the formation of the rules of the fund Feinberg wrote, "We concluded that any methodology that does nothing more than attempt to replicate a theoretically possible future income stream would lead to awards that would be insufficient relative to the needs of some victims' families and excessive relative to the needs of others" (Feinberg 2001). Therefore, each application is to be reviewed individually.

Summary of the final rules governing the Fund.

  • Compensation for noneconomic losses. The presumed noneconomic loss compensation for the spouse and each dependent of a deceased victim is $100,000 in addition to a $250,000 payment awarded on behalf of all decedents. In other words, a mother with two children will receive $550,000 in noneconomic loss compensation.

  • Compensation for economic losses. To calculate economic losses, the Special Master will examine a victim's income from 1998-2000—and 2001 on a prorated basis—considering wage growth assumptions and their application to different age groups. A Model of Work/Life Expectancies will be applied to calculate growth in income, employing All Male tables for all claimants to avoid gender discrimination. Consumption is calculated as a percentage of after tax income. The Awards Charts address income to the level of the 98th percentile and claims establishing income at levels higher than the 98th percentile are to be considered on an individual basis.

    Congress requires in the language of the Act that collateral source compensation such as life insurance and other federal and state benefits paid as a result of the injuries or death of victims of 9/11 should offset the calculation of economic losses.

  • Collateral sources of compensation. The Fund will consider life insurance benefits, pension funds, employer death benefits, and payments made by local, state, and federal compensation programs related to the terrorist events of 9/11 as sources of collateral compensation to be deducted from the award. (Any monies received from State Crime Victim Compensation would be deducted as a collateral source of compensation.) Excluded as sources of collateral compensation are tax relief, contingent Social Security benefits, contingent workers' compensation benefits, and support from charitable donations.

  • Hearings. Feinberg states in the Final Rules, "Although we still anticipate that awards in excess of $3 or $4 million will be rare, we emphasize [again] that there are no "caps" under this program. Each claimant has the option to ask for a hearing at which he or she may assert additional individualized circumstances and argue that the presumed award methodology is inadequate to resolve his or her particular claim in a fair manner. We will consider all such individual circumstances, including, but not limited to, the financial needs of victims and victims' families" (Feinberg 2002).

State Legislation


Maine. The state of Maine has revised the law that governs compensation to rape victims for sexual assault forensic exams and evidence collection. It is no longer necessary for a rape victim to file a police report in order for the cost of the rape kit to be covered by the State Victim Compensation Fund. The revision allows that the evidence collected during the exam be kept by the crime lab for ninety days to provide time for the victim to decide whether or not to contact law enforcement. The Department of Public Safety has also been charged with the task of developing a standardized forensic evidence collection kit which will be provided to hospitals and other healthcare professionals (ME Code 5g 3360-m).

California. California AB 1019 amends government code 13965 to make sexual assault and domestic violence victims eligible for emergency relocation expenses under the State Crime Victim Compensation Program. Victims of sexual assault and domestic violence are able to secure immediate cash grants to help them move to safe place if a law enforcement officer or a mental health professional determines that relocation away from the offender is necessary for their physical safety or their mental well-being (CA AB 1019).

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Chapter 5 Financial Assistance for Victims of Crime June 2002
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