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Social Security's Response to 9-11 Attacks

More than $3 million a month being paid to victims' families


The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports having paid nearly $67 million in benefits to people affected by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

As a result of September 11th, Social Security received 5,629 individual benefit claims from 2,281 families. Most of the assistance went to family members of those killed in the terrorist attacks. However, Social Security also helped workers get disability and retirement benefits.

Survivors Benefits: Family members of deceased workers may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits. To family members of deceased 9-11 attacks victims, Social Security is currently paying monthly benefits to 2,375 surviving children and 853 surviving spouses. In addition to monthly benefits, one-time payments were made to 1,800 members of victims’ families.

Disability Benefits: When a worker is unable to work due to a disability that lasts or may be expected to last at least one year or to result in death, the disabled worker and certain family members may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Social Security is currently paying monthly benefits to 498 individuals disabled by the terrorist attacks of September 11th and 81 of their dependent spouses or children.

  • Nearly $67 million in benefits have been paid to people affected by the September 11, 2001 attacks.

  • The first payments to surviving family members (benefits for the month of September) were paid on October 3, 2001.

  • As of August 2003, Social Security is paying more than $3 million per month.

    Social Security responded to the September 11th terrorist attacks by activating special emergency procedures to give the fastest possible service to the families of the victims of the tragedies at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.

    These procedures allowed for acceptance of documents as proof of death that, under other circumstances, would not have been accepted. Airplane manifests, lists of employees furnished by employers and other statements that placed the worker at the scene of the attacks were accepted.

    Social Security employees helped families at special assistance centers that were established in New York, Arlington, VA, and Shanksville, PA.

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