Coakley’s office disburses money
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured more than 260, many of the victims and their families are expected to turn to the One Fund Boston charity for help.
But those affected by the explosions on Boylston Street may also qualify for another pool of money that has gone largely unnoticed: the state’s Victim Compensation Fund , administered by the attorney general’s office. The fund could provide up to $25,000 in aid to those who qualify.
Attorney General Martha Coakley is trying to raise awareness of the fund, which will supplement aid provided by the One Fund, a pool of private and corporate donations for victims. Additionally, she said, she is hoping the money may provide relief to families who do not qualify for help from the One Fund.
Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino tapped Kenneth R. Feinberg, who previously oversaw the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, to administer the One Fund, which has raised nearly $30 million in donations. On Wednesday, Feinberg announced the qualifications for recipients.
The largest sums of money will go toward victims who experienced brain injuries and double amputations, and to family members of those who died. People who were hospitalized or treated at a hospital on an emergency outpatient basis will qualify for smaller sums. But that does not include everyone who may have been affected by the bombings.
“There is this other group of people who will have no access to the One Fund,” Coakley said. “But there may be some state resources available to help them in ways that, in this economy, will make a difference.”
The Victim Compensation Fund, which was created in 1967, helps victims of violent crime throughout Massachusetts. It is funded through financial penalties paid to the state in criminal convictions and federal grants. Victims can receive any amount up to $25,000, Coakley said, depending on the cost of medical care, funeral services, or other expenses incurred as a result of crime against a victim or a victim’s family.
Coakley said she envisions that the victim’s fund will help families who may fall through the cracks: not affected seriously enough to qualify for the One Fund but still reeling from the attack.
For example, she said, the fund could help a child who was not injured in the blast, but may need counseling because of the horrific scene he saw. Or it could provide help to a bystander who did not realize until days later that she experienced hearing damage.
The victims fund is available to those who must pay for medical or dental care not covered by health insurance, and those who lost wages because of a bomb-related injury. Additionally, the funds can be used for counseling, funeral services, or home alterations needed as a result of the bombings.
More than 100 people have applied, Coakley said.
Amy Weiss, a spokeswoman for Feinberg, said those organizing the distribution of One Fund money were not aware that the attorney general’s fund was applicable to Marathon victims.
“This is the first we’ve heard about it,” Weiss said when contacted last week.
One Fund staff will research the Victim Compensation Fund, she said, and decide whether they will advise victims and their families to also seek assistance from the attorney general’s office.
Menino said he is hopeful that the Victim Compensation Fund will augment the money that victims will receive from the One Fund.
“I applaud the efforts of Attorney General Coakley and everyone else working to help the victims and those touched by the Marathon attack,” Menino said in a statement. “People hurt by this tragedy should seek support from the variety of resources available as we recover as a city.”
Recipients of aid from the state’s fund need not be Massachusetts residents, Coakley said. And just as with the One Fund, recipients of the state’s fund will not have to relinquish their right to sue the state.
Individuals can apply to receive compensation up to three years after the date of the bombing. The initial application, which can be found on the attorney general’s website, calls only for basic contact information. Officials at the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance will use medical records, evidence of contact with police, and other documents to vet the applicants.
“We have a pretty broad standard,” Coakley said. “We’d rather be inclusive than exclusive, but we certainly do our vetting.”
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