But even before Kenneth Feinberg takes charge on Monday, there's already an uproar over application guidelines.
Gulf coast restaurant owner Matt Shipp has been crushed by the BP oil spill, CBS News Correspondent Elaine Quijano reports.
"We survive off the water and live off the water," said Shipp. "Financially, personally, I have lost pretty much everything. There is no more personal finances available in my life anymore."
He's waited months for a compensation check from BP. His Alabama restaurant has lost a quarter of a million dollars.
On Monday, the fate of businesses like his will lie in the hands of Feinberg, a prominent Washington lawyer.
"If you have documented your claim, you will be paid in 48 hours," Feinberg said at a public meeting Friday.
Feinberg will take over as administrator of BP's $20 billion claims fund. He's touring the region, explaining the process, helping people fill out forms and promising quicker payments.
He faces a daunting challenge in trying to assign a dollar value to damages that could continue for years to come.
Under the rules for emergency claims, people who live close to the water or make their living on the water will qualify:
"Fishermen, shrimpers, crabbers, oyster people, you are all covered, you are all eligible," Feinberg said Friday.
Yet for businesses far from the beaches but that still claim spill-related losses, those checks may never come and many are crying foul.
"BP received claims from 48 states," Feinberg said Saturday. "Forty-eight states. Now obviously we will not recognize claims from 48 states for harm this Gulf shore."
There are others that will not be reimbursed, including claims for:
• loss of property value
• mental health claims
• loss of jobs due to drilling moratorium
Already, protests are mounting.
"The word 'happy' is not in the dictionary," said Feinberg. "Nobody can be expected to be happy. These citizens have suffered a great harm. Few will consider themselves happy over this."
At Shipp's restaurant, the doors are still open, barely.
"It is a survival mode, and that's what we are trying to do," Shipp said.
Under the guidelines, people who receive emergency compensation will not waive the right to sue, and if the $20 billion fund runs out, BP says it will continue to pay legitimate claims.