May 19, 2020

Kaine Introduces Bill To Create COVID-19 Victim Compensation Fund For Essential Workers

Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act will create a new program for all essential workers and personnel who have been injured or impacted by COVID-19 

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Senators Tammy Duckworth, Richard Blumenthal, Ed Markey, and Kirsten Gillibrand to introduce a bill that would create a new fund to provide compensation for injuries to any individual, or their families, who are deemed an essential worker and required to leave their home to perform services and who have become ill or died as a result of COVID-19. The Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act is modeled after the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).

“Essential workers are putting their lives on the line every day to provide critical support for our communities amid this crisis,” said Kaine. “We owe them not only a debt of gratitude, but also financial assistance in the tragic event they’re impacted by the pandemic as a result of their work to help others.”

The Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act would:

  • Establish a compensation fund for all essential workers, personnel, and their families, across all industries, that were required to leave their homes to perform their services and became ill or died as a result of COVID-19
  • Support essential workers affected by COVID-19 across the country in their recovery by providing critical financial assistance to help with medical costs, loss of employment, loss of business, replacement services, and burial costs
  • Authorize appropriated funds as needed for 5 years with the fund permanently closing one fiscal year after the Special Master determines that no additional claims can be filed
  • Create a new website and office developed and administered by a Special Master to assist in the application process
  • Maximize compensation for essential workers and their families by simplifying the application process to get those affected back on their feet. 

Family members who share homes with essential workers and became sick through contact with the essential worker would also be eligible to file a claim. The compensation application would allow claimants to provide information regarding the extent of their loss for consideration. Eligible individuals would receive compensation no later than 20 days after approval.

The legislation has also been endorsed by the Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA), Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA), National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA), SMART (the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and DC37.

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