U.S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced the introduction of the Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act, which will create a new program for all essential workers and personnel who have been injured or impacted by COVID-19. Modelled after the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), the new fund would provide compensation to any individuals, or their families, who were deemed essential workers that were required to leave their home to perform services, and became ill or died as a result of COVID-19. The bill will help support essential workers 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. The legislation would also create a website to facilitate access to the fund and simply the application process to maximize compensation for essential workers and their families.
“As we mark one year since the first confirmed COVID-19 case in New York, much work remains to take care of the essential workers who have helped our state, and our country, navigate this public health crisis,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Congress must pass the Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act to provide critical funds to our nation’s heroes and their families. I am proud to cosponsor this important bill and will work with my colleagues to ensure it becomes law.”
The Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act:
- Establishes 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;
- Supports 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;
- Authorizes 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;
- Creates a new website and office developed and administered by a Special Master to assist in the application process; and
- Maximizes 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.
Senator Gillibrand previously joined calls to create a federal fund — the Essential Frontline Worker Compensation Fund — to reimburse essential frontline workers for costs incurred while serving the American public during the pandemic. The Essential Frontline Worker Compensation Fund would help workers safely stay on the job and afford medical costs, transportation, temporary housing, childcare, and care for other long-lasting traumas that may come with serving at the forefront of this pandemic – including testing positive for COVID-19.