May 14, 2020

Duckworth, Maloney Announce Bipartisan Legislation to Create COVID-19 Victim Compensation Fund for Essential Workers

Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act will create a new program for all essential workers and personnel who have been injured or impacted by COVID-19


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12) today announced the introduction of a bipartisan bill that would create a new fund to provide compensation for injuries to any individual, or their families, who are deemed an essential worker and required to leave their home to perform services and who have become ill or died as a result of COVID-19. The Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act is modeled after the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). U.S. Representatives Peter King (R-NY-02) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10) also helped introduce the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Our nation’s dedicated health care workers, first responders, letter carriers and legions of other vital essential workers are serving on the front lines to care for patients battling COVID-19 infections and keep our country running during a deadly pandemic that has already killed more than 80,000 Americans,” said Senator Duckworth. “While we have to do much more to protect these men and women as they take on greater risks during this pandemic, we also need to recognize the sad reality that our nation has a responsibility to take care for the loved ones of those essential workers who perish as a result of their decision to go back to work to help others.” 

“On September 11th, it was the firefighters and officers who ran into the burning buildings to save lives. Today, it is hospital workers – nurses, doctors, EMS, janitorial staff, pharmacists, technicians and all essential workers. We owe them more than applause at 7pm,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “In this fight against the Coronavirus, it is the first responders, retail workers, transit workers, grocery store clerks, delivery workers, janitorial staff, sanitation workers, mail carriers, hospitality workers, and federal, state and local employees who are on the frontlines, walking in to the fire every day as they risk their health to make sure we are safe, fed, and healthy.”

The Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act would:

  • Establish 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
  • Support 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
  • Authorize 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
  • Create a new website and office developed and administered by a Special Master to assist in the application process
  • Maximize 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.

The Members joined today in a virtual event with the Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA), Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA), National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA), and SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers; to discuss the legislation and its importance to essential workers in all industries. In addition to those listed above, the legislation has also been endorsed by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and DC37.