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The long saga of distributing the donations made after the Aurora theater shooting is one step closer to completion. Thursday is the last day for victims to submit claims.
Claims for disbursements from the Aurora Victim Relief Fund will be processed by the Governor’s Office. If they choose to do so, victims and their families can request a private, one-on-one meeting with the fund's mediator, Kenneth Feinberg, to discuss their claims.
Eric Brown, a spokesman for the Governor, said they have received a total of 52 claims, of which three are duplicates. They were sent, he said, by mail, email, fax and also hand-delivered.
Brown said additional claims will be accepted if they are postmarked by Nov. 1.
Feinberg will make final payment determinations and money will be disbursed as soon as possible after Nov. 15, officials said.
Feinberg is a nationally-recognized expert in handling relief funds created after other various tragedies and disasters and is best known for serving as the Special Master of the Federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001. He is not receiving payment or any fees or expenses while assisting with the Aurora Victim Relief Fund.
"We are extremely grateful to Ken Feinberg for his service to victims and their families and to the state of Colorado," Gov. John Hickenlooper said. "He has proven once again why he is the nation's leading expert in handling these kinds of matters."
Feinberg has said that 70 percent of the fund balance will be divided among the families of the 12 people killed in the shooting, as well as victims who suffered permanent brain damage or permanent physical paralysis. Each family is expected to receive approximately $200,000.
There are three categories for victims who will split the remaining 30 percent:
Victims hospitalized for 20 days or more.
Victims hospitalized for between eight and 19 days.
Victims hospitalized between one and seven days.
Victims in each category will receive the same payment, but the exact amount will be determined by the number of approved claims and the total fund balance.
As of Oct. 15, the balance was $4,961,739.
The fund has already distributed $450,000. Nine disbursements totaling $100,000 in grants went to nonprofits in Aurora who were helping the shooting victims. The Colorado Organization for Victims Assistance or COVA received $350,000 from Giving First. That group then wrote checks of $5,000 to each of the 70 shooting victims.
People who escaped without physical injury, however, will not be compensated. Bryson Billapando, for example, has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I know I wasn't the only one to walk out of there not injured and I know that they're struggling, too," Billapando said. "It really upsets me, because I know some people who donated to the fund and it was meant to go out to help everybody. Not just a fraction of people. I think at least everybody who was inside the theater should receive some type of help. Anything would help," he added.
Feinberg said he developed the payment protocols after gathering input at two public meetings and reviewing feedback previously collected from three victim meetings and a victim survey conducted by the 7/20 Recovery Committee. A detailed explanation of the payment protocols and the claim forms can be found here.