As Effects of COVID-19 Grow, Moran & Tester Seek Waivers on Deadlines for Veterans Applying for Benefits

Senators urge VA to take action to protect vulnerable veterans who cannot file the necessary paperwork for their claims and appeals during the national emergency

MANHATTAN – To ensure veterans aren’t forced to choose between their health and their benefits, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mont.) are leading the push to waive claim deadlines during the COVID-19 crisis. To protect veterans— one of the most vulnerable populations to the virus—the Senators are calling on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to use its regulatory authority to grant waivers or extensions for veterans applying for benefits during the national emergency. 

As a result of recent self-isolation instructions and general shelter-in-place orders across the country, many veterans cannot file the necessary paperwork for their claims and appeals in a manner that abides by the instructions provided in their states and local communities without jeopardizing their safety. To alleviate the pressure of filing paperwork and prevent potential loss-of-benefits during the pandemic, Chairman Moran and Ranking Member Tester are requesting that the VA waive or extend the deadlines for veterans to file their claims.  

“Veterans may feel paralyzed with anxiety and fear over this pandemic and they should not be penalized for missing deadlines when their focus should be on maintaining their own health,” wrote Senators Moran and Tester to Secretary Wilkie. “Veterans also may not have access to their representatives to help guide them through the complicated claims and appeals process during this national emergency.”

Many veterans rely on Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), veteran legal clinics, and attorney’s offices to help navigate them through the complicated claims and appeals process to obtain their earned benefits from VA. However, due to the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, veterans are unable to access this assistance and are left to navigate the overwhelming options on their own. Granting waivers or extensions to veterans during the pandemic would prevent a number of veteran appeals in the future.

Read the full letter HERE.