U.S. lawmakers set aside $2.76 billion last winter to compensate people who developed illnesses after spending time at ground zero.
But to be considered for the aid, all potential applicants must dismiss any pending lawsuits by the deadline and give up their right to sue forever. Anyone with a lawsuit still pending on Jan. 3 is barred from the program for life.
That has left some people with tough decisions.
Most will have to choose without knowing how much money they might eventually receive under either option.
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