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Nearly 94 Percent of Gulf Coast Claims Remain Unprocessed

Image has not been found. URL: /wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Kenneth-Feinberg.jpgKenneth Feinberg, the administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. (Richard Clement/ZUMA Press)

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which is being overseen by independent administrator Kenneth Feinberg, has been up and running for more than a week now. Feinberg has said all individual claims will be processed within 48 hours and business claims will be processed within seven days. But, according to statistics released by the GCCF, nearly 94 percent of the claims filed so far have not yet been processed because they lack the proper documentation.

Between Aug. 23 and Aug. 30, according to the latest report from the GCCF, 28,880 people filed claims for damages they’ve suffered from the oil spill. Some people have filed multiple claims, bringing the total number of claims to 31,225. Of those claims, only 1,935 — just over 6 percent — have been paid.

The rest, according to Feinberg’s spokesperson, Amy Weiss, lack the proper documentation to complete the claim. Weiss says the claims facility has requested more documentation in these cases and will process them quickly once the information is provided. “There was way more lacking in documentation than we anticipated,” Weiss says.

What about the promise of a 48-hour turnaround? Weiss clarifies that claims cannot be processed without adequate documentation. “The 48 hours, as Ken has said, is 48 hours after the documentation is in,” she says, stressing that “every claim has been looked at so far.”

The majority (88 percent) of the claims filed with the GCCF were claims for lost earnings, about 6 percent were for “loss of subsistence use of natural resources, and 4 percent were for damage to property. Nearly all of the claimants have filed for emergency payments, which cover losses in the interim, before a final payment is filed. Claimants have until Nov. 23 to file for emergency payments, which can cover 1-6 months of losses. After Thanksgiving, victims of the spill have until 2013 to file a final claim. If they accept the claim, they must sign a document forfeiting their right to sue BP.

The claims statistics also show that more than $9.7 million has been doled out to those who suffered losses from the spill so far.

The GCCF has also received data about claims filed with the BP Claims Center prior to Aug. 23; the current report does not include that information. Instead, the GCCF promises “a comprehensive report on all claims filed and payments made to date” once the two sets of data have been integrated.

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