How To Divide One Fund? Should Double Amputees Get Double Money?

This article is more than 8 years old.

Should someone who lost two legs in the Boston Marathon bombings get twice as much compensation as someone who lost only one?

This is an admittedly heart-rending quandary. But it's one that administrators of Boston's One Fund for marathon bombing victims will have to resolve soon.

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the deadline for applications. Money will go out to victims on July 1, based on the fund total as of July 27. So between July 27 and July 31, One Fund administrator Ken Feinberg and his team will decide who gets how much. Feinberg has set the categories. The question to divide the money?Picture 2

This is a tragic calculation. As Feinberg has said, there is no way to meet all the victims' needs. But how would you do it? How much more does the family of someone who died deserve as compared to a young woman who lost most of one leg or a man who kept both legs but suffered permanent damage?

We did some back-of-the-envelope math to get the conversation started, using the best numbers we've been able to gather thus far.

As of today, the One Fund has just about $48 million, and 155 people have applied.

The largest awards will go to victims who died, are double amputees or those with permanent brain damage. There were four deaths (three at the bombing site and Sergeant Sean Collier) and two double amputees. We don't know how many survivors have a permanent brain injury. To be cautious, let's say one. So the total in Category A would be 7. Let's say we start with $2 million a piece, for a total of $14 million.

The second-highest award will go to survivors who lost one limb. We know of 14. If they get $1 million each, for a total of $14 million, the fund has $20 million left to distribute.

The third-highest award will go to people whose injury was bad enough to require an overnight hospitalization. There were at least 135 survivors in this category (after you subtract the single and double amputees). Let's say they get $133,000 each. That leaves $2 million.

The fourth category is for patients who were treated and released without an overnight hospital stay. There were at least 125 such victims as of the last count. Let's say they would get $16,000 each.

Some people who are eligible may not apply.

And yes, there will be more money by July 28. This is just a way to start thinking about balance, priorities and the decisions fund administrators will have to make.

They do not plan to consider a victim's income, assets, life expectancy or any other factors.

What would you do?

This program aired on June 14, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.