WOMEN VICTIMS OF 9/11 & THEIR FAMILIES DESERVE FAIR COMPENSATION

Jan 14, 2002
Press Release
WASHINGTON: Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) urged the Special Master of the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund to change rules for the fund that discriminate against women.

Maloney and eleven other members of Congress sent a letter to the Justice Department detailing flaws in the current proposal that disproportionately affect women victims and their families.

Maloney said, "Families that lost a mom should not be treated differently than families who lost a dad. That's just unfair, plain and simple. The gender-based disparities in the proposal are caused by the reliance on out-of-date, 1979 data that doesn't apply to today's working women and certainly shouldn't apply in this instance. It's also time that household work was considered in real monetary terms. Work done in the home has a significant cost and that should not be overlooked in considering these awards for both women and men."

Joining Maloney in signing the letter were New York Congressmembers Peter King (R), Edolphus Towns (D), Carolyn McCarthy (D), Steven Israel (D), Felix Grucci (R), Nydia Velázquez (D), Benjamin Gilman (R), Jerrold Nadler (D), Maurice Hinchey (D), Jose Serrano (D), and Gregory Meeks (D). The following are excerpts from the letter, sent to Kenneth L. Zwick, Director of the Office of Management Programs in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice:

"We write to express concerns with the Interim Final Rule (the Rule) published on December 21, 2001 (1). Although the Rule makes a good attempt at setting forth regulations that would implement the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund which was included in the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (P.L. 107-42), the Rule contains procedures that are discriminatory to women and should therefore be revised before becoming final on January 22, 2002.

"Firstly, the use of outdated data to calculate compensation will negatively impact the families of women who perished or were severely injured on September 11th. The National Association of Forensic Economics (NAFE), an organization of economists and other professionals who measure damages and/or proof of liability in litigation, suggested recently that '[t]he worklife tables used [in the Interim Final Rule] in projections are out of date, and especially inappropriate in the case of loss of earnings for women (2).

"'Worklife estimates' are an estimate of the number of years equal to the average expected work life of a person. We understand that these statistics will be used, in part, to determine amounts of compensation for the families, therefore, reliable and timely data will be essential for accurate calculations. Yet, the Special Master proposes to use the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS), 'Worklife Estimates'(3) which are outdated charts. These estimates were made in 1979 and will show women working on average five years less than men, a gap that has narrowed over time (4). The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Worklife estimates are, according to the experts, widely considered as 'invalid' and 'out of date' (5). We call on the Special Master to use more widely-accepted, gender-neutral actuarial practices in his calculations.

"Secondly, in the Rule the Special Master does not take into account household services performed by the working person for the family, such as child care and household upkeep, when determining compensation. For women, replacement of lost services can be significant. The National Association of Forensic Economics' Dr. John Ward, has said that on average, women contribute 25 hours to housework compared to 10 hours for men. For the victim's family, this could mean up to $300,000 in a lifetime (6).

"According to press accounts, approximately 25 percent of those killed in the September 11th attacks were women. We strongly urge the Special Master to abandon the use of outdated worklife tables that underestimate the time women spend in the workforce. In addition, the Special Master should compensate victim's families for lost household services. Without these changes, families of women who perished or were injured on September 11th will likely be under-compensated.

"We realize that the Department is receiving commentary (including comments from some of us who have signed this letter) regarding numerous other aspects of the Rule. This letter is not comprehensive, but is intended to highlight these particular problems. We trust that you will give our comments every consideration when finalizing the regulations to implement the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund."

(1) 12-21-01 FR 66273-66291.

(2) p. 23, "An Introduction and Critique by John O. Ward," Chair and Professor of Economics, University of Missouri-Kansas City, delivered to the National Association of Forensic Economics, January 4, 2002.

(3) p. 2, Presumed Loss Calculation Tables Before any Collateral Offsets, listed on the U.S. Department of Justice's September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 website.

(4) "Less for Women?; Work Life Statistics May Limit Sept. 11 Fund Payouts to Victims," Newsday, January 4, 2002.

(5) p. 19, "An Introduction and Critique by John O. Ward," Chair and Professor of Economics, University of Missouri-Kansas City, delivered to the National Association of Forensic Economics, January 4, 2002.

(6) "Less for Women?; Work Life Statistics May Limit Sept. 11 Fund Payouts to Victims," Newsday, January 4, 2002.

 

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