- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 6, 2001

The Justice Department yesterday announced that it has begun approving death benefit claims for the families of public safety officers firefighters, police and emergency medical technicians who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Within 60 days of receiving the first claim, the Treasury Department paid the one-time financial award to the first 150 families. The awards, totaling $37.5 million, are provided by the Justice Department's public safety officers' benefits program.
As a result of the recent enactment of the USA patriot bill, Justice Department officials said each eligible family will receive a tax-exempt benefit payment of $250,000 an increase of nearly $100,000 over the previous award level. In addition, officials said, eligible survivors can qualify for educational assistance through the department's public safety officers' educational assistance program.
"The World Trade Center tragedy was a moment of indefinable horror and grief for this nation, but it was also a day of uncommon valor," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "I am pleased that we are providing, as quickly as possible, a small measure of relief to the families of these heroes."
President Bush directed the Justice Department to expedite the processing of payments to the families of public safety officers killed at the World Trade Center. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), a component of the department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP), administers the death benefits program.
The approved claims are the first of about 400 expected.
"Every one of us has been changed forever by this horrible tragedy," said OJP Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels. "In the aftermath of this unprecedented loss of public safety officers, I am grateful that we are able to provide accelerated assistance so that these families can begin to rebuild their lives."

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