Sinema Renews Legislation Supporting Families of Deceased Veterans

Jan 28, 2021

Sinema reintroduced her bipartisan bill ensuring dependents of deceased veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Republican Senator Thom Tillis (NC) reintroduced their bipartisan bill ensuring family members of veterans who passed away due to the coronavirus receive the dependent benefits they’ve earned. Sinema and Tillis’s bipartisan Ensuring Survivor Benefits During COVID Act is also cosponsored by Republican Senator John Boozman (AR), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT), Senator Chris Coons (DE), and Senator Elizabeth Warren (Mass.).
“COVID-19 has taken the lives of too many Arizonans, including our brave veterans. Learning whether service related disabilities contribute to veterans’ coronavirus deaths will help ensure family members grieving the loss of veterans receive their rightful benefits,” said Sinema.
“As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we have tragically lost thousands of veterans who had service-related disabilities,” said Senator Tillis. “This bipartisan legislation would ensure the families of those veterans receive the rightful benefits they deserve.”
“This bill would ensure veterans and their families get every benefit they earned and deserve serving our country. A COVID-19 diagnosis can now inexcusably put in jeopardy veterans’ rightly-earned benefits. By requiring the VA to accurately confirm the cause of death and account for any service-connected illnesses that may have been a factor, this bill would safeguard veterans’ benefits and ensure that their family members are cared for,” said Senator Blumenthal.
“The death toll of COVID is devastating, as is the serious impact it has had on our more vulnerable communities, including our veterans. New Hampshire families mourning the loss of their loved ones deserve the space to grieve without the stress of not receiving promised benefits, especially during these difficult financial times,” said Senator Shaheen. “Congress must act during this unprecedented crisis to investigate the connection between service-related disabilities and COVID-19 deaths to ensure the VA appropriately cares for surviving family members. We must uphold our promise to veterans and their families that they’ll receive the benefits they deserve.”
“TAPS is thankful that Senator Sinema and Senator Tillis have introduced critical and timely legislation to ensure the Department of Veteran’s Affairs grants benefits to survivors of veterans who die of COVID-19 with an underlying, service connected, health issue that may have contributed to their death by coronavirus,” said Bonnie Carroll, President and Founder of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).  “In challenging times it is important that we come together in nonpartisan ways to help our veterans, survivors and fellow citizens as we all cope with the damaging effects of this unprecedented pandemic.  It is our hope and expectation that the Ensuring Survivors Benefits during COVID-19 Act of 2021 will receive overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle and we look forward to seeing it passed into law.”
“The Arizona DAV views the Ensuring Survivor Benefits during COVID-19 Act of 2021 as critical legislation  to protect and in some cases restore benefits to Veterans’ families when the primary cause of death is marked as COVID-19 on a death certificate… The Ensuring Survivor Benefits during COVID-19 Act of 2021 would provide accountability for the VA and is an absolute imperative in order to protect the benefits of Veterans and their survivors,” said Glenn Hohman, Commander at  DAV Department of Arizona. 

Sinema’s bipartisan Ensuring Survivor Benefits During COVID Act was inspired by stories she heard during her regular calls with Arizona veteran serving organizations to discuss coronavirus relief efforts. Currently, veterans who pass away from coronavirus may have their cause of death labeled as “COVID-19” without accounting for service related disabilities that further complicate their coronavirus diagnosis. Sinema’s bill ensures those disabilities are taken into account so family members have access to benefits they’ve earned.