WASHINGTON — A House bill introduced Thursday would ensure that any veteran who dies from coronavirus in the care of the Department of Veterans Affairs would have service-connected disabilities noted in the cause of death to protect survivor benefits.
If an autopsy of a veteran now states the cause of death is coronavirus instead of a service-connected disability, it has the potential to jeopardize survivor benefits, which are typically awarded to families of veterans who died from an injury or illness related to their military service.
The Ensuring Survivors Benefits during COVID-19 Act, introduced by Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, would require VA to account for service-related disabilities that might have exacerbated the virus and contributed to the death of a veteran.
“Presently, the cause of death rulings threatens benefits veterans have earned,” Davidson, a former Army infantry officer, said in a statement. “Congress must act to ensure that the VA accurately deals with the cause of death while accounting for service-related injuries in order to properly care for all surviving family members.”