Under the Dome

July 23, 2014

Progress made in sterilization victims compensation

The state office responsible for aiding victims of the state’s eugenics program is reaching out to 280 people whose claim applications are missing information needed to determine their eligibility for compensation.

The state office responsible for aiding victims of the state’s eugenics program is reaching out to 280 people whose claim applications are missing information needed to determine their eligibility for compensation.

So far, the state Office for Justice for Sterilization Victims has received 780 claim applications. More applications could still come in as the forms had to be postmarked by June 30.

About 7,600 people in North Carolina who were poor, mentally ill or judged “feebleminded” were sterilized between 1929 and 1974. The State Center for Health Statistics estimated in 2010 that 2,944 people who were sterilized under the program were still alive. Others have put the number at closer to 1,800.

Once the office receives the claim forms, it forwards them to the N.C. Industrial Commission, which determines eligibility. So far, the commission has processed 465 of the 500 claims forwarded.

“There was a big influx of claims toward the end of the deadline,” Chris Mears, a spokesman for the Department of Administration, said of the small backlog. “They were coming in faster than we could process them.”

Claimants who have been approved or denied compensation were notified within 30 days of the determination, said Graham Wilson, the deputy communications director at the Department of Commerce. Applicants who were denied have 30 days to appeal the judgment.

Those who need to supply additional information are being given 30 days to respond to the request.

Wilson said the Commerce Department was not able to release how many claim forms had been approved.

Those who are approved will receive their compensation on June 30, 2015. The legislature approved a $10 million fund for victims – one of the first of 33 states that ran forced sterilization programs to agree to compensate victims.

The amount of compensation each victim receives will depend on the number of people whose claims are approved by the Industrial Commission.

The families of sterilization victims who died before June 2013 will not qualify for payments.

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