Claims Administrator: thousands of eligible MS claims not filed - - The News for South Mississippi

Claims Administrator: thousands of eligible MS claims not filed

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When in doubt, file a claim. That's the message the claims administrator for the Deepwater Horizon Economic Settlement was pushing during a visit to Mississippi to pass out tourism and seafood grants. Patrick Juneau said he believes thousands of eligible claims in Mississippi have not been filed. 

As part of the Gulf Tourism and Seafood Promotion Fund, which is part of the settlement, 13 Mississippi tourism and seafood related organizations will share in $4.5 million to help them bounce back from the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill.

Bridget Varone is the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association.

"We are going to try to give restaurants all of the tools that they need to get back on their feet after the BP oil spill," Varone said. 

The Gulf Coast Charter Boats Association will use its $164,150 to put on a month long fishing tournament next year.

"We're going to try to bring down as many people as we can to stay in the hotels, motels," said Bobby Williams. "We need to get the people to realize that the oil spill is over with and the fishing is very great on the Mississippi Gulf Coast."

Other recipients included Pass Christian Main Street, the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum, Gulf Coast Writers Association, Mississippi Gulf Coast Attractions Association, Hancock Community Development Foundation, Hancock County Tourism Development Board, Mississippi Gulf Coast Conventions and Visitors Bureau, Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Tournament, Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association, Ship Island Excursions and Infinity Science Center.

Patrick Juneau, Administrator for the Deepwater Horizon Claims Process, didn't just come to pass out grant checks. He's spreading the news that all of Mississippi and not just Coast residents can put in an oil spill claim. However, to get paid they must have proof of economic loss within a time frame determined by the settlement.

"To have the records and the documentation that shows the loss period as specified under the settlement. If you have that and you meet those tests, then we pay," Juneau said. "So my advice for everybody and this is from the top of Mississippi down to the bottom of Mississippi. The entire state. When in doubt, file the claim. We'll do the homework for you."

Juneau said in these tough economic times, he doesn't think Mississippians can afford to leave money on the table.

"We have already paid out, under this program alone, millions of dollars. We're in excess of a billion dollars already. There are a lot more eligible claims out there under the settlement agreement that have not been filed," Juneau said. "Just because a claim was denied under Gulf Coast Claim doesn't mean that claim is going to be denied under this process. We've got broader parameters of eligibility."

Juneau said it would be a shame if people don't at least investigate. He said there have been people in the Northern and Central parts of the state who have qualified including farmers, jewelers and even the owner of a car wash. Officials said anyone who waived their right to future money from BP is not eligible for this phase.

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