S. 89 would increase the number of people who receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Because DIC benefits are paid from mandatory appropriations, enacting the legislation would increase direct spending.
Under current law, surviving spouses and children of veterans who receive compensation from VA for disabilities connected to their military service are eligible for DIC—a monthly cash benefit—if the veteran dies because of those disabilities. Under the act, VA would be required to get a medical opinion to determine the cause of death if the survivor is denied DIC under the following conditions:
The deceased veteran’s death certificate lists COVID-19 as the principal or contributory cause of death;
The veteran’s death certificate does not identify any of the disabilities for which the veteran was receiving compensation from VA; and
One of the conditions for which the veteran was receiving compensation from VA was likely to cause severe illness from COVID-19.