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Trade Center victims’ kin seek to alter payments

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NEW YORK — Relatives and survivors of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks who object to the proposed federal compensation plan are joining forces to make a push for changes to the fund.

Under the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund, families can apply for federal money to cover lost wages, pain and suffering as long as they agree not to sue airlines and other entities.

Families of people killed will receive an immediate payment of $50,000, and injured victims will get $25,000 as soon as their applications are processed. The minimum award for the families of those killed is $250,000. However, the average award is expected to be $1.65 million.

But many say the plan, which was established as part of a $15 billion bailout bill for the airline industry, severely limits the amount of money families will receive since, for instance, compensation from life insurance policies and pension funds will be subtracted from the government award.

The plan's critics want to take the issue up with Special Master Kenneth Feinberg, a Georgetown University Law Center professor appointed by the government to administer the fund.

Four organizations — the WTC United Family Group, Give Your Voice, September's Mission and the 9/11 Widows, Victims and Families Association — will collect written objections and opinions next week. The "Family Rally" at a Manhattan armory is expected to draw about 1,000 people, organizers said,

"This rally will allow the families of those who died on Sept. 11 to tell the special master that he must make changes to ensure every family is treated fairly," said Anthony Gardner of the WTC United Family Group.