Families of veterans who die from COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) would be eligible for survivors’ benefits, under measures now pending before Congress. The House measure, introduced Oct. 5 by Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, also would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to seek medical opinions in cases where veterans die of COVID-19. The review process presumably would ensure that survivor benefits would remain undiminished when veterans with the coronavirus die because of service-connected disabilities. VA would assume the burden of proof in such cases, rather than the families.
“Congress must act to ensure that VA accurately deals with cause of death, while accounting for service-related injuries in order to properly care for all surviving family members,” Davidson said. “Veterans with long-term medical challenges shouldn’t have to worry that contracting COVID-19 will endanger the benefits they earned while serving our country.”
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, introduced a similar bill before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in July. Both bills are pending further action.