Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks

Representing the 5th District of Indiana
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Veterans COVID-19 Info

Department of Veterans Affiars COVID-19 Info

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced, March 3, a number of actions to provide Veterans with financial, benefits and claims help amid VA's COVID-19 response.
  • “As all Americans come together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, we want Veterans to be focused on their health and safety,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “That’s why we’re taking action to give those with pending debts, claims and appeals greater flexibility during these challenging times.”
  • The financial relief actions include the following until further notice:
    • Suspending all actions on Veteran debts under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department.
    • Suspending collection action or extending repayment terms on preexisting VA debts, as the Veteran prefers.
  • For benefit debts, Veterans can contact the VA Debt Management Center at 1-800-827-0648 to make arrangements.
  • For health care debts, Veterans can contact the Health Resource Center at 1-888-827-4817 to make arrangements.
  • The benefits and claims relief actions include giving Veterans the option to submit their paperwork late for the following actions:
    • perfecting claims
    • challenging adverse decisions
    • submitting Notices of Disagreement
    • submitting Substantive Appeals
    • responding to Supplemental Statements of the Case
  • Veterans requesting claim extensions can simply submit them with any late-filed paperwork and Veterans do not have to proactively request an extension in advance. For added convenience, VA will also accept typed/digital signatures instead of wet signatures on its forms. Those with questions can call 1-800-827-1000.
  • For Veterans who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and need immediate action on their appeals, as opposed to a filing extension, the Board of Veterans' Appeals will Advance their appeal on Docket (AOD). Click here to find out how to file for AOD and what documentation is required.

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VA Partners with Treasury Department to Deliver Economic Impact Payments to Veterans

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced (4/17) it is working directly with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and U.S. Treasury Department to ensure delivery of ‘Economic Impact Payments’ to Veterans and survivors who receive Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefit payments from VA without additional paperwork or IRS filings.

The ‘Economic Impact Payments,’ authorized by the Treasury Department under the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will be issued automatically to recipients of non-taxable VA benefits who did not file annual income tax returns for 2018 or 2019. VA and the IRS have been collaborating since the passage of the CARES Act to ensure Veterans receive their EIP.

“Many have expressed concern that Veterans and their beneficiaries would be overlooked during the distribution of Economic Impact Payments from the CARES Act simply because they don’t file an annual tax return,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This collaboration will ensure our Veterans receive CARES Act payments without any additional action or paperwork required.”

Economic Impact Payments will be automatic for non-tax filing VA beneficiaries. For VA beneficiaries who filed a Form 1040 for 2018 or 2019, those payments will also be automatic. No further action is needed. They can track the status of their payments on the Get My Payment tool on IRS.gov. For non-tax filing VA beneficiaries, please note their information will be loaded on this tool within the next few weeks.

For VA beneficiaries who didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and have a dependent, there is a special step they need to take, and the sooner the better. They should visit the Non-Filer: Enter Payment Info Here tool on IRS.gov. By quickly taking steps to enter information on the IRS website about them and their qualifying children, they can receive the $500 per dependent child payment in addition to their $1,200 individual payment. 

VA recognizes that many non-tax filing beneficiaries have already begun using the IRS’ EIP payment portal to provide the necessary data to IRS to receive their EIP. There will be no interruption to payments being processed using the IRS portal, and Veterans with internet access are encouraged to continue providing information and track their EIP through the IRS portal. 

For those who do not have access, or choose not to use the IRS portal, their EIP will be processed without further action on their part.

While no date for distribution has been set at this time, VA is securely sharing necessary beneficiary data with Treasury which will allow Treasury to begin issuance of Economic Impact Payments.

 For more information on CARES Act ‘Economic Impact Payments,’ visit: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know.

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun implementing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act or CARES Act, signed into law March 27, to protect America’s Veterans.  

The bill contains important funding increases in support of VA’s nationwide response to the challenge.

This includes $17.2 billion for the Veterans Health Administration, where money is already being used, to hire new staff and make sure existing personnel have the resources they need to deal with the evolving needs of the pandemic.

The funding has also been used to add beds, provide overtime pay and purchase needed supplies such as ventilators, pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment.

Other CARES Act benefits to Veterans includes:

Homelessness

  • Increasing the amount to support the additional costs of aiding Veterans in today’s more difficult economic circumstances. Before the CARES Act, VA provided up to $48.50 per day for each Veteran that grantees assist.
  • Expecting loan servicers to comply with all home loan related provisions of the CARES Act, giving borrowers the right to loan forbearance upon request and protecting against foreclosures, evictions and adverse credit reporting. During the COVID-19 emergency, servicers must also comply with all other federal, state and local requirements implemented to address the servicing of home loans. 

Telehealth

  • Allowing VA to enter into short-term agreements with telecommunications companies to deliver free or subsidized support for mental health services through a telehealth connection or VA’s Video Connect service.
  • Working to ensure Veterans participating in the HUD-VA Supportive Housing program (HUD-VASH) have access to telehealth equipment.

State Veterans Home

  • Waiving a requirement that VA state homes maintain a 90% occupancy rate in order to receive federal benefits for times when the Veteran is not in the home. The change recognizes the importance of social distancing, especially among the older Veteran population.
  • Permitting State Veterans Homes to admit more spouses of Veterans and Gold Star parents.

Additionally, the CARES Act law allocates $150 million for emergency State Veterans Home construction and $2.15 billion for information technology.


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VANIHCS COVID-19 Initiatives:

  • All Veterans and staff will be asked COVID-19 screening questions at each VANIHCS facilities.

  • All entry to VANIHCS facilities has been restricted to a single point of entry.

  • ALL VA Northern Indiana Health Care System will not permit persons under age 18 or any visitors in our medical centers and clinics.

  • VANIHCS Community Living Center (CLC) has a “No Visitor” stance, meaning no outside visitors will be permitted to see residents.

  • Providers at the Marion and Fort Wayne are reviewing all appointments for next 90 days to determine if they are medically necessary to be seen face to face or if they can be converted to telephone or VA Video Connect. WE encourage you utilize these 2 methods of connecting with your providers at this time.

    • For questions or concerns about your appt, please contact your primary care provider (my healthy vet, secure messaging, phone).

  • All veteran patients without appointments are being seen the Emergency room or Urgent Care.

  • VetPride Services has suspended valet service at the Fort Wayne campus.

 

Transportation services:

  • VTN services are suspended completely
  • VTS services are for urgent and emergent cases only
    • If a Veteran has a situation, they believe is urgent or emergent, they may contact their PACT to request a clinical review of urgency for possible transport
  • For areas in which it is available, some for profit services are still running i.e. taxi’s, Uber, Lyft etc.
    • Veterans that are Beneficiary Travel eligible may use these services and submit a claim for reimbursement with the travel office.
  • If a Veteran has a specific question that this does not answer, they may contact the VTS office at ext. 74485/75094.

 

Community Based Outpatient Clinic’s (CBOC) COVID-19 Initiatives:

  • Effective March 19, the VANIHCS Peru, and Muncie Community Based Outpatient Clinics have ceased direct patient care services, routing resources in preparation for an anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients to include staffing, supplies, and equipment.
  • We are still providing virtual or phone care from our CBOC providers for now. Your team can help answer questions and provide virtual care through My HealtheVet secure messaging, or by making a video connect or phone appointment by calling your Primary Care Team.
  • ALL Muncie and Peru phone lines have been transferred to our Marion call center, so they will be answered.

 

Veterans in need of EMERGENT medical care:

  • Veterans are encouraged to seek medical attention at VANIHCS Fort Wayne, Marion, and St. Joseph Community facilities.
  • Veterans can also utilize Urgent Care facilities within the VA Network.
To be eligible for urgent care, Veterans must:
  • Be enrolled in the VA health care system AND

  • Have received care through VA from either a VA or community provider within the past 24 months

To find an in-network urgent care provider:

Use the VA Facility Locator Website: https://www.va.gov/find-locations/

Or

Contact your local VA medical facility 1-800-360-8387 ext. 75113, or Call 877-881-7618 to reach the OCC National Contact Center.

 

VA Video Connect:

  • If you are interested in a VA Video Connect appointment, please send a secure message/call your primary care team with your current email address. We will set up a virtual meeting for you to see and talk with your healthcare team in a virtual medical room, from anywhere, using the camera on your phone, computer, or tablet.

  • VA Video Connect allows you to meet with your VA care team through secure and private video conferencing sessions.

    • You must have:

      • Internet Connection

      • Computer or laptop with a web camera OR

      • Smart Phone

        • Android

        • iPhone and Apple products require the download of the VA Video Connect app

 

Medication Counseling and refills COVID-19 Initiatives:

Medication counselling will be provided via telehealth after the Veteran receives their medication if desired.

Please use the following options to renew or refill your medication:

  • Utilize MyHealtheVet (www.myhealth.va.gov) (For questions call: 1-800-360-8387 Ext: 75269)
  • Send a secure message (www.myhealth.va.gov) to **Northern Indiana Pharmacy Triage Pharmacy Team
  • Call the automated telephone line (1-800-360-8387) with your prescription numbers ready
  • Mail your refill slips
  • Call the pharmacy telephone center and speak with a pharmacy technician at: 765-677-3133 or 1-800-360-8387 Mon-Fri 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (closed holidays)

 

Curb Side pick-up:

  • To slow the spread of COVID-19 Pharmacy will be offering curbside pick-up during the pandemic.  Please help us in not over taxing this process and only request Veterans pick up their medication in situation where waiting 24 hours would be harmful to the Veteran. 
  • If the Veteran can wait 24-48 hours, please allow us to overnight the medication to them.  We highly recommend all medication be mailed except in urgent/emergent scenarios.

 

Mental Health COVID-19 Initiatives

  • Mental Health has transitioned to VA Video Connect and telephone appointments for all appointments except emergent. Telephone visits are also acceptable.  
  • Veteran appointment should happen the same day/time that they were scheduled. Follow-up appointments may be set up for the future.
  • Some “group” sessions will be converted to individual appointments if more appropriate or the Veteran’s preference.
  • Inpatient units are still open for acute and long-term psychiatry
  • The Substance Abuse Residential Program is currently on “pause” and those patients will receive outpatient care while we prepare that the residential unit space will be used for medical “surge”
  • Injections will still take place but only at the Marion and Fort Wayne Campus.

Food Insecurities:

Please call,

Marion- 1-800-360-8387 ext. 73683

Fort Wayne 1-800-360-8387 ext. 71430

For Questions or Concerns, please call 1-800-360-8387 ext. 75113