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Victims in Boston bombings told to 'lower expectations' on payouts from compensation fund

Kenneth Feinberg has handled compensation for Virginia Tech shooting victims and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, and now he is the administrator for the One Fund, which will compensate the victims of the Boston Marathon twin bombings. The One Fund has currently raised over $21M and has had more than 50,000 individuals contribute. Feinberg joins Morning Joe to discuss.

A fund to help victims in the Boston Marathon bombings will be divided up first to families of those killed, then by the severity of injuries, but no one should expect to have 100 percent of their expenses covered, the administrator said Monday night.

“Whatever we do with this fund is inadequate,” Ken Feinberg, administrator of One Fund Boston said in town hall for victims and their families. “Everyone, please lower your expectations about this fund. If you had a billion dollars you would not have enough money to deal with the problems with these attacks.”

Feinberg is a Massachusetts native who also administered funds involving 9/11 victims as well as victims in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre and Virginia Tech shootings.

He did promise payouts by June 30 to the families of three people killed in the blasts, the MIT campus police officer killed in the aftermath as well as people who suffered other severe injuries such as double amputations.

Families of the dead and those who lost more than one limb could potentially each receive “well over $1 million,” he said.

In addition to the people killed, some 260 others were wounded or injured in the twin bombings, and several required amputations.

“It’s unique to have so many catastrophic injuries that require compensation,” Feinberg said.

Feinberg talked through a draft protocol that when finalized will dictate who gets money in the fund and how much. He said mental trauma compensation would be “iffy,” and also said outpatients -- people went to the hospital but were then quickly released -- are unlikely to get much if any of the funds.

Rock Center checks in on Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, the mom and daughter wounded in the Boston bombings. They move from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility where the journey of recovery continues. NBC News' Natalie Morales reports.

The protocol includes categories of physical injuries with death, double amputations, single amputations, paralysis, brain injuries at the top and less severe injuries below.

Feinberg and his staff will make the final determination on the protocol, set to be in place by May 15, when applications will be available for victims to apply for aid. Those seeking compensation will have until June 15 to submit an application.

Payouts to individuals are expected on June 30, when the fund's administration will be turned over local board of directors.

One way to decide on compensation is to find out how long each victim has been in the hospital, Feinberg said. But whether the existing insurance coverage of victims or other financial wealth should be taken into account — so called means-testing — is still unresolved.

In the other victims’ compensation funds, it was decided not to account for individual financial resources because it slows the process down, he said.

A least two members of the town hall audience agreed that means testing would be a drag on quickly getting victims money, a goal set by the fund.

Another town hall to receive input on the process will take place in the same location – the Boston Public Library at Copley Square – at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Feinberg said more than 50,000 private individuals and companies have contributed to One Fund Boston, many with $5 or $10 donations.

The fund has already raised more than $28 million, Feinberg said. Some $11 million dollars of that is already available, and the $17 million remaining is pledged but not yet donated, he said,

At Virginia Tech, Feinberg said, students who witnessed the carnage in the classroom shooting were compensated for mental trauma. That hasn’t been decided in Boston yet, but he called it “iffy.”

Tragedies such as the Boston bombings bring an outpouring of generosity, he said, and bring the country together. He noted that the entire One Fund Boston fund was from private donations, unlike the $7.1 billion 9/11 compensation fund, which was legislated by Congress.

“I’m always amazed at the charitable impulse of people,” Feinberg said. “We have 50,000 private donors. It reaffirms your faith in the American people.”

Still, some in the audience appeared disappointed that outpatients were unlikely to be compensated, including victim who have no insurance and must pay their entire emergency room bills.

Killed in the blasts were Boston University grad student Lingzi Lu, 23, from the city of Shnyang in northeastern China; Krystle Campbell, 29, a steakhouse manager from Arlington, Mass. and Martin Richard, 8, of Dorchester, who was waiting for his dad, Bill Richard, at the finish line along with his mother and sister, who were seriously wounded.

Sean Collier, a 26-year-old MIT campus officer, was fatally shot by the bombing suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar  Tsarnaev as they fled a massive manhunt in the wake of their public identification, police said.