Journalism in the Public Interest

Gulf Compensation Chief Retreats From Promises to Speed Claims Process

Just two weeks into the Gulf oil spill claims process, payout czar Ken Feinberg admits the promises of payments within 48 hours or seven days are unrealistic, and apologizes for letting people down.


Kenneth Feinberg testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on July 21, 2010, a month before he took over the lead in handling claims from the Gulf Oil Spill. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Just over two weeks ago, Kenneth Feinberg took over the process for handling damage claims from the Gulf oil spill, pledging to cut down the response time from BP's widely criticized system to two days for individuals and seven days for businesses that file fully documented claims.

After a rocky start in which claimants have reported chronic delays and confusion, Feinberg is now retreating from his targets and acknowledging that the process will take longer than he had pledged.

"The announced 48-hour claim determination rule for individual claims, and the 7-day claim determination rule for business claims will be extended as necessary and appropriate," Feinberg's spokeswoman Amy Weiss told us. "The policy remains to review all individual and business claims as quickly as possible."

Weiss said one reason for the delays is that claimants are providing so many documents. She said lengthy and complex supporting documentation "requires careful scrutiny and attention to assure that each claimant will be afforded the benefit of the most generous payment."

Last week, we reported that Feinberg's Gulf Coast Claims Facility was lagging in processing claims, much as BP itself did before Feinberg took over in late August. The story came to our attention following reports from applicants participating in our BP Claims Project that they had waited longer than the promised response time without hearing from the facility, and faced service problems such as a system crash and difficulty in transferring key paperwork. (If you've filed a claim with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, you can tell a reporter about your experience using this quick online form. If you've worked for one of the claims center and want to share your experience, you can use this form.)

While Weiss acknowledged at the time that there would be delays "in the first few weeks" of the transition, she said then that the policy was to make a preliminary evaluation of claims within 24 hours, and then send checks within 48 hours to individuals who've documented their claims.

Now, the processing time appears to have been extended indefinitely as considered "necessary and appropriate" by Feinberg's operation.

So far, the fund has issued payments on 10,252 of 47,949 emergency payment claims that have been submitted so far, or about 21 percent of the total, according to its latest statistics (PDF).

Earlier this week, Feinberg apologized to those affected by the delays. Feinberg said that while many claims could not be processed because people hadn't sent enough documentation, he acknowledged that his staff was falling behind even in managing fully documented claims.

"There are many, many claims where we have violated our own rule" of paying within 48 hours or seven days. "It's taking longer than I had hoped," Feinberg told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "Those critics who say Ken Feinberg raised our expectations and then is not living up to those expectations, they're absolutely right, and I owe them an apology," he said.

ProPublica is tracking the claims process. If you've filed a claim with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, you can tell a reporter about your experience by visiting If you've handled claims for BP or the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, you can tell a reporter about your experience here.

Lieberg strikes again. This is a carefully planned delay to string big claimants along to November and try to force them into a final settlement. He is also wanting people to file quickly, and gave us all an enticement of a quick turn around, so that BP will know the extent of their liability.
Don’t believe one thing that comes out of his mouth. He is a shill for BP, and he is making $10s of millions for this. I do not believe for a second that Mr. Feinberg is so stupid as to think that 12 or 24 processors was going to be sufficient enough to handle all of the claims. He had all the statistics from BP on the number of claimants by state. He knew what was going to happen, and purposely did nothing to ensure adequate personnel was on hand.
He can’t be that bad of a planner. No way.
The reason that the Worley people aren’t being allowed to do much, is because he fears they will start talking, and best not to let them have any information.

Everyone should be filing their claims with the National Pollution Fund Center.

What would be better with the statistics of paid claimants would be to delineate them by State, or better yet by county. He says business owners are very happy. Most business owners i know have claims in for $100s of thousands not $14,000. What state are these people in?
I hear the main focus has been in Louisiana and that they are buying owners out of boats.

So what’s the delay, first GCCF blamed the claimants by stating we didn’t file all the necessary documents. Now they’re saying people are filing too many documents.
What about the claims that have all the necessary documents, and minimal amount of documents…as my husband’s simple loss of earnings claim.
Our claim hold less than 20 pieces of paper, including the new GCCF application (which we filed on line so that shouldn’t be added documentation).
Our claim was put into Under Review status the same day that we completed our GCCF application ONLINE - August 25th.
If we have less than 20 actual documents to review, how can it take two weeks to review, unless IT’S NOT ACTUALLY UNDER REVIEW, OR THEY ARE REVIEWING THE DOCUMENTS ONE PER DAY.
I have called the call center countless times to ask specific questions of the claims process and I have been lied to in every way.
1.) I asked if the claims are reviewed in order, as they come in. The answer was yes.
Lie because I know ppl who filed after we did and have gotten paid.
2.) I was told on August 30th, we could go into one of the claims center and talk to a GCCF rep and get any info we needed on our claim.
Lie, because those unnecessary claims reps can only see the same Status Update as we do online. They are unable to access the claim and find out specifics.
3.) I was told over the phone yesterday, that all the necessary documents are in our claim and our claim is under review.
Lie, because as I stated we have less than 20 pieces of paper in our file and it shouldn’t take this long to review.
I tried to explain how simple my husband’s claim is, but the call center reps can not do anything about it.
The rep I talked to even believes the facility is a sham, but has to work there to feed her kids.
I called my state governor, whose office is not involved and I was told there is no involvement on the state level to help the victims/claimants. However, I was directed to contact our Senator’s offce.
So, I called our Sentor’s office and I was emailed a form to fill out, to explain why I need my Senator’s help.
I will email this form to anyone in Florida who needs it…. email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
BP was handling our claim just fine.
If it really ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Now it’s reallllly broke…........and so are we.

I also called FEMA…......shouldn’t they really be the organization handling the disaster claims?
I was told the President hasn’t declared a Federal Emergency for this matter and FEMA will not help.
Ummmmm, I’m confused on this. Didn’t the states effected declare emergencies? Did Obama? Does anyone else feel that we should be dealing with FEMA?

You don’t need FEMA. Call the National Pollution Fund Center.

They administrate the fund and have the oversight over OPA.

Ok here’s my question….....
there’s only 25 people processing the claims actually???
All of our docs in the GCCF claims, which were BP claims handled by the same ppl sitting in the old BP offices now GCCF office, and who are familiar with the claims and victims…......anyways all of our docs are scanned into a system, why can they not be e-transferred back to the adjuster being used prior to the GCCF take over and have those adjuster work the claims while they are sitting in those offices DOING ABSOULTELY NOTHING!??!@?!?!?!?
Theres your man power, if your lacking some Lieberg!
there are more ppl in the brick wall…or I mean GCCF call center, than people actually processing the claims….......are you kidding me?

Why did anyone assume that the government would do any better with this process?

“We’re from the government and we’re here to help you” are still the scariest words on the planet.

Marcia Mandel

Sep. 9, 2010, 4:26 p.m.

By the end of this month, our business will have almost a $50,000 claim and the only one who has paid us a dime was BP, who managed to get an emergency check out in just shy of 1 month.

We filed online with GCCF on 8/24 and in subsequent phone calls were told we would get paid faster if we submitted all the documentation that we had already given BP since they hadn’t transferred the information over to GCCF yet. We did that and now they are complaining there is too much documentation????

At least with BP, I had an adjuster I could talk to every day- now I have only a hotline person who is able to answer the FAQ’s on the online website and tell me what I already know- my claim is “under review”- since the day I filed it on 8/24, but they know nothing else.

By the time they get their act together we will be out of business- not that it seems to matter much to Ken Feinberg- after all he apologized, what more could I ask for?

Just for kicks and giggles I checked the GCCF website for the status of our claim. Um, confused because now the site is showing we have two claims, one for Personal Property and one Loss of Income. We’ve filed only one claim, for Loss of Income.however we did file two on for a one month payment and then we file the subsequent claim for 6 months.(haven’t been paid for either yet)....I hope GCCF didnt mess something up.
Oh yea, they also have an IMPORTANT, yet redundant, NOTICE on the website. make sure you all read it.

Brian J. Donovan

Sep. 9, 2010, 6:16 p.m.

Again, merely focusing on Feinberg’s timeline for processing claims and how claims are being handled by GCCF is a waste of time and energy. GCCF employs the traditional “delay, deny, defend” strategy used by insurance companies.

BP oil spill victims must be proactive. Merely reacting to GCCF plays into BP’s strategy.

Sasha, here are three issues a reporter should investigate:
(a) how GCCF limits BP’s liability via the systematic postponement, reduction or denial of claims against BP;

(b) how GCCF guarantees BP’s continued long-term operation in the offshore Gulf of Mexico E&P sector; and

(c) why GCCF is not necessary to ensure that victims of the BP oil spill are fully compensated for incurred damages.


Most importantly, BP oil spill victims must know their legal rights.

In the event that a claim for damages is not paid by the responsible party (BP) within 90 days, the BP oil spill victim may elect to present the claim to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund or to commence an action in court against BP.

Every BP oil spill victim should be ready for “Day 91.”

Just thought I would let others know, I called the GCCF and she said all the ones that say under review are not under review. They are just filed period. They are reviewing them she said. When you get reviewed you will get an a yes or a no. She told me it might be a ways down the road before a lot of them are even looked at. Is that all you want she said.

I agree with the first post. This is a tactic to stall out and force people to settle. This is how they do it in the VA. This is how its done in most of these sorts of cases. We are just used to seeing the Corporations doing it directly. And now used to seeing our Government working “Hand In Glove” first hand to screw its own people.

As I understand it, the National Pollution Center is of no help in our case because OPA90 says they are not responsible if there is no oil where you are. Our tourism business was/is badly affected but the actual oil never even got within 750 miles of us. But the media convinced everyone that Florida’s beaches were covered with oil. I have read recently that 56% of people polled still think there is oil on our beaches.

Call the NPFC and ask them. Speak to a specialist. You are not discounted by proximity, but you have to be able to prove your eligibility and make a good argument. Doesn’t hurt to make a claim and try. Don’t discount yourself without trying. I have read OPA many times and discussed eligibility with lawyers. You have to be able to prove your eligibility.

And there is still oil on the beach. I live here i see it everyday. Its in the water, its on the beach, its under the sand, and its under the water. They hauled 6 tons of oil out of the subwater sand in pensacola two weeks ago and had a big slick outside NAS.

I wonder at this very moment how many people are working on the claims. Maybe 25 or 30? Who knows but the longer it takes them the longer they are making the big wages from deciding these claims. I am talking about the adjusters too. They are being paid with the claims money too. It really breaks my heart to see so many people hurting like this. How will the people at the head of all of this, when they meet God and they will, explain why they hurt so many.

Hey Marsh,
These people WILL meet God, of course.  Ken Lieberg , on the other hand, will probably attempt to invite God to a “Town Hall” meeting instead of standing in judgement. At least God won’t fall for it as we have….Ken himself will come “UNDER REVIEW”  for destroying so many lives, and without so much as a “kiss my ass, rubes!” from the new York Liewyer. Thank you, PROPUBLICA- for helping us get the anguish to the public eye.

dont beleive in any of their lies people, i just found out their rules are way worse then bp had, if your local state or government company , no money,if your a real estate agent , no money , damages from the moratorium or oil drilling , no money damages to the boats, or properity due to being in the boat program , no money , those claims will not be paid, i have the letter from the claims people


When you say local, state, or gov. company   no money what do you mean? Also damages from the moratorium or oil drilling no money. I don’t understand what you mean. Does this mean none of the claims for about anything won’t be paid? Thanks ahead for your answer.

Please take care of yourselves because this stress is going to cause some of us to have heart attacks or cancer. When we put this stress in our bodies it has to come out somehow and a lot of times it is in our health. Cry, Pray and still smile, There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel and we will make it somehow.

if you are or a state or county employee or part of any county or state or federal agency or company or paid by any of the three you will not be paid, everything i posted is on a letter from the claims people ,

claims from local , state or federal entitles,

claims for real estate agents or real estate brokers

claiming damages for reducedcommissions or othe lost income

claims for damagesresulting from the moratorium on off shore drilling

claims for damages to a vessel or other properity incurred as a result of participating in the vessels of opportunity program

these 4 will not be paid , peroid

sorry for the messing up of typing my heart has dropped out of my body, the letter states all 4 of these will not be paid by the GCCF ,that means if you had a job on oil rigs , or because of the oil drilling ban , if your job was effected by the drilling ban you will not get paid

real estate people will not be paid at all

damages to boats or people or anything if you were part of the clean up program of boats that helped clean up the oil and mess,

if you work for the county or state or a federal agency or have ties to any of the three you will not get paid,

Real Estate brokerss/agents are being paid form a different funs which is being managed by each states rela Estate board(s).

Still rediculous that GCCF is only using 25 adjusters to process claims when they have hundreds sitting in the claims offices.
I still think we need to have the claims back in the hands of the adjusters working them before…they’re former BP adjusters and now GCCF Claims Reps. There are a lot of warm capable bodies sitting around on their hands, put them to work.
My husband’s claim is so simple and I really don’t understand why it’s being delayed.

Why cant the Government loan everyone the amount owed on their claim like they did the banks? It can be paid back directly from BP. Obama said he wanted to help and this is his opportunity. If they are destroying peoples lives then it is a lot more helpful than loaning wall street bankers funds. Why isn’t Obama jumping in and asking what the problem is???? Isn’t saving peoples income and businesses just as important to the economy as it was to save banks, wall street and the car companies. What is wrong with this picture??????

My dear Jason…
No one’s trying to help because nobody knows! With the exception of ProPublica, no one’s covering this disaster anymore.
Obama is completely aware, rest assured, of what Lieberg is doing to the gulf coast. It’s just not politically expedient for him to FIRE him and risk all this blowing up right before the mid-term elections in November.
Don’t you see? Even the liberal press is under pressure to make sure this DOES NOT come to the forefront at this time.
Sadly, it’s not a mistake- it’s an intentional act.

Terri Kleinsmith

Sep. 11, 2010, 7:32 a.m.

There is no , rhyme, reason or order at gccf. I know a realtor in PCB, FL who was paid about 10 days ago. I have a friend who was in the exact same situation as I was/am, she was paid her full 6 month payment serveral days ago.I filed my claim before her. The difference is that she is a sales manager and gets a salary plus commission while I was a sales rep on straight commission. I was laid off in July, she continues to draw her salary but has not made any commission because of the spill. I have had no income at all since BP paid me in June. Why am I still waiting with zero source of income when at least she gets a salary to live on? I don’t begrudge her at all. I am so glad she got a check but wouldn’t you think emergency payments should be given first to those who are in a real emergency situation??? Funny thing…Even though she has been paid and her check is in the bank, she still calls GCCF to ask about her claim and they continue to tell her it is “under review” She does it to see how long it will take for her file to be updated. The people who answert the phone have ZERO information, They can’t even tell you your claim has already been paid.

Terri Kleinsmith

That post is shocking above. I put in a claim in July and again Aug. 24. Nothing at all has changed. Lost salary is what mine is about. Wonder why they are not paying the lost salary?

Local 15 put this on their website then removed it.  But MSN picked up the story so it is available to read there.  Funny how things come and go and swept under the rug.  Still no word if the Mayor got a check or not.

(ORANGE BEACH, Ala.) - The mayor of Orange Beach says he’s given BP an ultimatum: Pay the city $430,000 by 4 p.m. today or lose all city services. Mayor Tony Kennon tells LOCAL 15 News BP owes the city hundreds of thousands of dollars for providing things like security, including overtime, since the spill brought oil on our local shores. The mayor says if a check is not on his desk by 4:00, he will cut all services being provided to BP. LOCAL 15 News will have a crew at the mayor’s office to see if BP delivers.

Click here to read this story on


Orange Beach News Blog

Orange Beach Alabama’s News & Weather Source


« »Oil spill claims coming faster than Feinberg can process |
Oil spill claims payments to individuals and businesses from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility topped $100 million Friday, but the number of open claims grew to nearly 38,000, as new submissions came in faster than workers could process them.

Wish me luck.I am going to call for final payment information tomorrow…..I can’t be kept in limbo like this…it’s too freakin stressful….

Chris Sherrill

Sep. 12, 2010, 10:02 p.m.

I have been sent word from OB mayors office that Feinberg will be at the town hall meeting Wednesday. He is coming strictly to hear what we have to say. We are holding a peaceful demonstration at the meeting. If interested email me

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

it says on the gccf web site that fin burg will hold a town hall meeting today
this is copied straight from the web site
the link is


9/13/10 (11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)
Ken Feinberg will be hosting a Town Hall meeting in Terrebonne Parish on Monday, September 13, 2010. This meeting will take place at the Houma Terrebonne Civic Center (346 Civic Center Blvd., Houma). The public is encouraged to attend to receive information regarding the claims process for individuals and businesses.

My belief is that Feinberg is only paying the relatively small claims.  He cares not that some individuals and business will go bankrupt before he pays their larger claims.  My belief is that Feinberg has an incentive to not pay out funds.  Just think…he has paid about $100million and still has approx. $900 million before he gets to $1billion and then there supposedly is $19 billion behind that.  BP is the smart one…put up more money than Feinberg will payout and if anyone complains, BP can say it is not their fault. They can honestly say it is Feinberg’s fault and he obviously does not care.  If he cared he would staff up and pay legitimate claims.  I am heart broken as to how innocent people are being treated.  We had nothing to do with the oil spill but we are paying the price and no one cares.

See this link apparently things did not go so well at LieBergs confrence today.,0,7870096.story?track=rss

Got his ass roasted

randy howard

Sep. 14, 1:15 p.m.
My belief is that Feinberg is only paying the relatively small claims.  He cares not that some individuals and business will go bankrupt before he pays their larger claims.  My belief is that Feinberg has an incentive to not pay out funds.  Just think…he has paid about $100million and still has approx. $900 million before he gets to $1billion and then there supposedly is $19 billion behind that.  BP is the smart one…put up more money than Feinberg will payout and if anyone complains, BP can say it is not their fault. They can honestly say it is Feinberg’s fault and he obviously does not care.  If he cared he would staff up and pay legitimate claims.  I am heart broken as to how innocent people are being treated.  We had nothing to do with the oil spill but we are paying the price and no one cares.

Randy not all true because I have a small claim well I don’t know what a small claim is but I am by myself no business and need 9 weeks pay. NOthing at all is ever done on it. I had to take a job that pays nothing like I was earning working there in the gulf. I worked for 10 years digging the sand out of the water ways so the boats could get in. What do I get from Fienberb? Just a kick in the butt. No money at all and it is always on review.

Real Estate businesses - agents, brokers and brokerages that have a history of deriving their incomes from directly impacted areas deserve to be treated as any other small business in this process.  Currently there are caps of $18K (AL) and $12K(FL) regardless of the amount of your loss.  It does not take into account the differences in operating expenses for a brokerage over an agent. 

Last week at the Orange Beach meeting I offered a written proposal to Mr. Feinberg suggesting a way for lost income for real estate agents/brokers/brokerages to be calculated.  You can see it at:

This is the sole income source for my family and has been for over fifteen years.  The only thing that stopped us from being able to support ourselves was BP, and we should be compensated fairly.

well alison, you can not blame bp for that, the country is in a real bad slump, and not because of bp, the housing market was in a slump already and for you people to blame bp and collect money is wrong

Brian J. Donovan

Sep. 23, 2010, 5:54 a.m.

ProPublica readers may be interested in the following article by Jon Donley.

Although I have not been the victim of this type of smear campaign, ProPublica should consider keeping an eye on the comments in its forums. If the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers engages in this type of activity, so may the BP/GCCF team.


Would agree with you if your statement were based in fact.  The fact is that real estate is local, and what is happening all over the country doesn’t necessarily play out in a local market.  This local market has been recovering - 23% in ‘08 over ‘07, same ‘09 over ‘08 and in 2010 we were running 30% over ‘09 until BP.  Only want to be compensated based on facts.

This article is produced with the help of readers:
ProPublica Reporting Network

ProPublica Reporting Network

Our collaborative reporting initiative that connects readers with our reporters to produce stories in the public interest.

Reporting Network

Sign up to be notified of reporting opportunities.

Get Updates

Our Hottest Stories