Information for Veterans
COVID-19 Resources for SC's 5th Congressional District
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As our nation battles with the COVID-19 pandemic, special attention is being paid to our veterans and the care they receive through VA healthcare facilities. Below is a list of commonly asked questions specifically pertaining to our military veterans during this time.
*** IMPORTANT: VA health facilities are currently experiencing very high numbers of calls and patients. If you are attempting to contact the VA or your local VA healthcare facility, it's essential you be both patient and persistent.
What support is included for VA health care facilities and their COVID-19 response?
The CARES Act includes $19.57 billion in funding to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the equipment, tests, tele-health capabilities, and other services necessary to support veterans and the health care workforce at its facilities nationwide.
What should I do if I have an upcoming VA health appointment?
For routine appointments and non-emergent issues, the VA strongly recommends using tele-health (phone or video) for your appointment or rescheduling for a future date. You can schedule, reschedule, and cancel your appointments using the VA's Secure Messaging portal or through the VA's website.
Note: while urgent and emergency procedures are expected to continue as scheduled, the VA may contact you to cancel or reschedule non-urgent procedures for a later date.
Can I still access VA medical facilities?
Most VA medical facilities have placed restrictions on access for the time being. Wherever practical and possible, non-emergent and routine appointments will need to either reschedule for a later date or utilize telehealth technology. The VA is strongly urging all visitors who want to visit a facility in-person to call that facility before coming.
Additionally, most VA facilities have been directed to limit the number of entrances through which visitors can enter. Upon arrival, all patients, visitors, and employees will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and possible exposure.
What should I do if I need to refill my prescription?
If you currently get your prescription sent to you by mail, you’ll continue to receive these refills as normal. However, if you usually pick up your prescriptions in person, the VA encourages you to use their online encourage you to use the VA’s online prescription portal for refills. Please make sure to submit your refill at least ten (10) days before your current prescription runs out.
Can I visit an emergency care facility?
If you’re experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room IMMEDIATELY. This includes, but is not limited to chest pain, numbness or tingling in your arms or on one side of your body, severe fever, violent vomiting, or uncontrolled bleeding.
If you have an urgent but not necessarily life-threatening need, the VA asks that you contact your local facility’s advice nurse before going to a clinic or urgent care facility. You can also contact the VA using their Secure Messaging platform.
What about VA nursing homes and spinal cord injury units?
On March 10, 2020, the VA announced that its 134 nursing homes (also called VA community living centers) and 24 spinal cord injury and disorder centers would be closed to all outside visitors. All clinical staff will be screened for COVID-19 daily before entering the nursing home or spinal cord injury units, and staff will work only within those units to limit possible transmission of the virus. Exceptions to the visitor policy will only be made for cases when veterans are in their last stages of life on hospice units or inpatient spinal cord injury units.
I’m a veteran in need of home-based care. Can I still enroll or renew my participation in the Veteran Directed Care program?
Yes, you can enroll or renew your participation in the Veteran Directed Care program through telephone or tele-health. No in-home visit required.
I am a veteran living in a rural area and am being told that my appointments will now be through tele-health, but I can’t afford internet services or don’t have a good internet connection.
Talk to your provider and local VA about getting an iPad or other tablet from VA. This bill allows VA to enter into partnerships with local telecommunications companies to subsidize or completely pay for broadband internet services. Call your local VA facility or send a secure message to your provider on My HealtheVet to ask about this option.
I’m a veteran using the Veteran Directed Care program for home-based care, but I can’t get to a printer or post office to send in my renewal paperwork due to COVID-19. Will I be kicked out of the program?
No. Under Section 20006 of the CARES Act, veterans and their caregivers will not be penalized for late paperwork and will not be dis-enrolled or suspended from the program.
I’m a veteran using the Veteran Directed Care program for home-based care, but I am currently living outside of my home state and can’t travel home due to COVID-19 restrictions and health concerns. Can my caregiver still be paid for services, even if we are out of state?
Yes. Under the CARES Act, veterans and their caregivers will not be penalized for being out of state for more than 14 days during the COVID-19 emergency, and should continue to receive payments for care.
I use VA’s prosthetic services and need to get my prosthetic adjusted, but am nervous to go into a VA facility because I have underlying conditions that make me more at risk of complications from COVID-19. Where can I go?
This bill gives VA more flexibility to allow veterans who need their prosthetics created or adjusted to do so in their local community. Call your local VA provider or message them on MyHealtheVet and ask about this option.
I’m a veteran receiving pension and health care benefits from VA. Will the emergency income from the CARES Act (the Recovery Rebate) count towards my income for determining my eligibility for pension, health care, and other needs-based benefits?
No. Under of the CARES Act, the 2020 Recovery Rebate payment cannot be counted as income when determining a veteran’s eligibility for any VA needs-based benefits.
I have a VA-backed mortgage, am I protected against foreclosure during the COVID-19 emergency declaration?
Yes, under CARES Act, federally backed mortgages, including those guaranteed or insured by the VA, are protected from foreclosure for 60 days beginning on March 18, 2020. If borrowers are facing financial hardship, they can by requesting a forbearance for up to 6 months, with a possible extension for another 6 months, through their mortgage holder.
I am a student veteran, and my school is converting to online education because of COVID-19. Will I still receive my housing allowance?
Yes, with the passage of Senate Bill 3503 into law, VA will continue to make housing allowance payments to students using VA education benefits at the on-campus rate, if the school converted to online education due to COVID-19.
How is the VA supporting those impacted by intimate partner violence (IPV)?
Crises that disrupt daily life – such as the COVID-19 pandemic – can interrupt access to key services, including resources for those experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV). VA’s Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program (IPVAP) has Coordinators in VA facilities available for support for those using or experiencing intimate partner violence. For more resources and information about VA’s IPVAP, visit https://www.socialwork.va.gov/IPV/Index.asp.
What if I'm having trouble with the Veterans Administration or VA healthcare facilities?
If you are a veteran having problems getting the information you need from the Veterans Administration of VA healthcare facilities, please contact my office by phone at 803-327-1114 or online through the form here.
My staff and I serve all all who live in South Carolina's 5th Congressional District. This includes all of Cherokee, Chester, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lee, Union and York counties and parts of Newberry, Spartanburg and Sumter counties. If you live in another district, please click here to find your Representative.
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