American Rescue Plan: Veterans

Overview

Congress has passed several rounds of financial assistance and relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including most recently the American Rescue Plan. The American Rescue Plan includes additional assistance for the more than half a million veterans in Washington state 

Veterans Health Administration (VHA): $14.5 billion for health care services and additional resources to care for our nation’s veterans. 

Unemployment Assistance: Nearly $400 million to help get veterans back to work by funding up to 12 months of rapid retraining assistance and a housing allowance for veterans who are unemployed as a result of the pandemic and do not receive other veteran education benefits. 

Increased Claims and Appeals Processing: $272 million to VA to mitigate the backlog in claims processing caused by the pandemic. 

State Veterans Homes: $500 million to help states upgrade State Veterans Homes across the country and $250 million in one-time emergency grants to support these facilities and ensure they can care for our veterans during the pandemic. 

***

Q&A 

I am a veteran who is awaiting my federal records so I can file a disability claim with VA and receive compensation. How will this legislation help me?
Funds from the American Rescue Plan will be used to expand the scanning of service records from federal records facilities impacted by COVID-19 so that veterans can have speedier access to their documents and allow them to file their claims for benefits.  

I’m a veteran who lost my job during the pandemic. Do I qualify for the Rapid Retraining Program? And how do I apply?
Veterans between the ages of 22 and 66, who are unemployed due to COVID-19, and do not have any remaining eligibility under any other VA education benefits qualify for the Rapid Retraining Assistance Program. Similar to other VA education programs, veterans will apply to VA to confirm their eligibility before selecting a program of training or education.  

I’m a veteran who uses VA health care. How does this legislation help me with copayments and health care costs?
VA paused medical billing and debt collection during the pandemic beginning on April 6, 2020. The American Rescue Plan waives any VA health care copayments incurred between April 6, 2020 to September 30, 2021, removing out-of-pocket costs as a barrier to health care access.  

I’m a veteran who used VA health care during the pandemic and paid my bills in December after VA sent me a letter saying how much I owed. Will I get my money back?
Yes. The American Rescue Plan authorizes VA to reimburse any veteran who already submitted payments for VA health care received between April 6, 2020 to September 30, 2021.  

I’m a VA health care provider or employee under Title 38. How does legislation increase my leave options?
The American Rescue Plan provides full-time employees up-to 600 hours of emergency paid leave (proportional for part-time employees) for Title 38 employees who are unable to work for reasons including, but not limited to: being under a quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19; having been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19; caring for a child who is affected by a school-closure; or is receiving a COVID-19 immunization or is receiving from that immunization.

I run a State Veterans Home. How much can I expect to receive from VA for my one-time emergency payment?
The $250 million for one-time emergency payments to support State Veterans Homes will be apportioned to state homes based on the current census of veteran residents in the state home. Based on the most recent data, State Veterans Homes can expect about $14,285 per veteran who is residing in their state home (for whom VA already pays per diem). 

I run a State Veterans Home, is there anything in the legislation that can help me with construction costs or renovations for my home?
Yes. There is $500 million for construction or renovation of state veterans homes – known as the Grants for Construction of State Extended Care Facilities program. This funding, overseen by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), will generally go toward federal-matching funds (up to 65 percent) for states and territories that have already submitted applications to VA and have also secured their state matching funds. In addition, the previous CARES Act law, as modified by Section 513 of Public Law 116-260, provides $150 million in construction funding specifically targeted at COVID-19 preparation, prevention, and response. 

More Information
For more information about how the VA is supporting veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the VA’s coronavirus response website, or contact your local VA provider.