United State Attorney General John Ashcroft spoke to the nation today and announced under the direction of President George W. Bush, the Justice Department would move to streamline the current process of providing benefits to firefighters, EMS workers, ambulance crew members and law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty in the New York City tragedy.
Under the 1976 Public Safety Officers Benefit Act, family members may claim a benefit of $150,000 in the case of death while performing duties. Ashcroft said the process of filling out a package of forms, providing evidence of the specifics of the death, and waiting for a Justice Department investigation to follow its course, will be streamlined.
Ashcroft said the Justice Department is dispatching a team to New York to assist in case processing and to set up a computer database for this specific situation. He said a set of lawyers would be available to review and assist with the claims.
In most cases, Ashcroft said, the process will be expedited by accepting a blanket certification from the directors of the of the public service agencies involved, along with an abbreviated family claim form.
Calling it an "insufficient response" to those who died answering call from fellow citizens on September ll. Ashcroft said they hoped to provide a measure of relief, "a gesture of inexpressible gratitude’. He said it was the least that could be done for those who lost their lives so others might be saved.