Coronavirus FAQs: What Veterans need to know
Our call centers and some VA health facilities are currently experiencing very high numbers of calls. To help us address the most urgent needs first, we ask that you use our online tools and frequently asked questions (FAQs) for routine or non-urgent questions. We’ll continue to update this page as the situation changes.
Note: If you have dependents and didn't file taxes in 2018 or 2019, you'll need to register with the IRS before May 5, 2020, to get your full stimulus check. Learn more
You can also use our VA coronavirus chatbotto get answers to your questions.
Visit the CDC for general coronavirus questions
For general questions about COVID-19, such as symptoms, prevention steps, guidance for travelers, and more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On this page
Health care, appointments, and more
Benefit payments, claims, and claim exams
Debt, copays, appeals, and other financial concerns
Status of VA national cemeteries and burials
Helpful online tools
The CDC defines COVID-19 as a disease caused by a new type of coronavirus (or “novel coronavirus”). The virus that causes COVID-19 belongs to a large family of viruses that are common in people and different animal species. On rare occasions, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and then spread from person-to-person. This is how the COVID-19 virus started. People with COVID-19 can have a wide range of symptoms that can range from mild to severe.
Symptoms may include:
FeverCoughShortness of breath or difficulty breathingChills or repeated shaking with chillsMuscle painHeadacheSore throatNew loss of taste or smell
To learn more about COVID-19, prevention steps, guidance for high-risk groups, travelers, and more, visit the CDC.
What should I do if I have symptoms?
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, call your VA medical center before going to a clinic, urgent care, or emergency room. You can also send your doctor a secure message through My HealtheVet.
Contacting us first helps us protect you, medical staff, and other patients.
If you’re not sure about your symptoms, our Annie text messaging service can help you monitor them and advise you when to contact your VA care team or your facility’s advice nurse.
The messages also provide general wellness tips and steps you can take to protect yourself. You can subscribe to Annie coronavirus precautions messages yourself, or ask your VA care team to assign it to you.
Visit the CDC to learn more about the symptoms of COVID-19.
What's VA doing to deal with COVID-19?
We have activated VA’s emergency management coordination cell (EMCC), and have started clinical screenings at all VA facilities. Learn about VA’s public health response
Can I be tested for COVID-19?
Testing is based on many factors, including the severity of symptoms, other existing illnesses or conditions, possible exposure, and other criteria. VA health facilities have been testing Veterans who meet the testing criteria provided by the CDC. There’s no charge for testing.
I don’t have symptoms, but I feel anxious and overwhelmed. What can I do?
First, it's important to know you're not alone, and we're here for you. Concerns about COVID-19 can be stressful for many people. You can take steps to manage stress and get support.
Stay connected and healthy. Stay in touch with friends and family by phone and social media. Follow your normal routine as much as possible, and get enough sleep and exercise. Keep your existing mental health appointments. If you currently have regular sessions, you can change them to telehealth (phone or video) appointments by sending your provider a secure message through My HealtheVet .Ask for a new mental health appointment. If you need same-day mental health care—or want to request a new appointment—call your local VA health facility. Find a VA location
Get more VA tips for maintaining your mental health
Visit the CDC to learn more about managing COVID-19 stress and anxiety
Health care, appointments, and more
What should I do if I have an upcoming VA health appointment?
For routine appointments, we recommendusing telehealth (phone or video) for your scheduled appointment. You can also cancel and reschedule your appointment for a later date.
If you have a non-urgent elective procedure scheduled, we may contact you to cancel or reschedule for a later date. Note:Urgent and emergent procedures will continue as scheduled.
To change your in-person appointment to a telehealth visit:
Use Secure Messaging through My HealtheVet to send a message to your provider.Use the VA appointments tool to request a telehealth appointment online. (Available only for some types of health services.)
Once your provider schedules a telehealth appointment, you’ll receive a VA Video Connect link (or another approved video meeting tool). Learn more about VA Video Connect
What should I do if I have a community care appointment?
If you have a scheduled appointment with a community care (non-VA) provider, please contact them directly before going.
Some community care providers may be affected by closures, limited services, quarantining, or physical distancing based on CDC and local health department guidelines. If your appointment is canceled, work with your community care provider to reschedule.
Because we understand that many communities are affected, we're extending VA authorizations for community care referrals, so you can continue to work with your community care provider to meet your needs. If you have concerns about rescheduling your community care appointment, send a secure message to your VA provider.
Can I get a referral to see a community care provider if I can't be seen at VA?
During the pandemic, we’re continuing to make community care referrals when needed. Because of COVID-19, we’re currently prioritizing referrals for urgent or other medically necessary care.
Note: Some community care providers may be affected by closures, limited services, quarantining, or physical distancing based on CDC and local health department guidelines.
Appointments to see community care providers need to be approved by VA (except for emergency and urgent care needs). Getting a referral depends on eligibility, type of care, and other factors.
At this time, community care eligibility requirements haven't changed. Learn about eligibility for community care
How do I reschedule or cancel my upcoming VA appointment?
Sign in to your VA.gov account to reschedule or cancel your appointments online.
Note: Some clinics are advising patients to not reschedule or schedule new appointments for some types of routine care, as they develop more guidance on safely providing care to protect patients and staff. Because this is a rapidly changing situation, the best way to get the most up-to-date facility information is to check your local VA health facility’s website. Find a VA location
View, schedule, or cancel a VA appointment online
Please sign in to use this service
Try signing in with your DS Logon, My HealtheVet, or ID.meaccount. If you don’t have any of those accounts, you can create one.
Sign in or create an account
What if I tried to call my clinic, and I can’t get through?
We apologize if you’re not able to get through or are experiencing long hold times. We’re currently experiencing very high numbers of calls. Our staff is working hard to handle the increase in calls.
To help us address the most urgent needs first, we ask that you use one of our online tools for routine or non-urgent concerns. You can:
Use Secure Messaging. You can send a secure message to your provider about any health concern or question.Try health chat (limited availability). You may be able to use our health chat if your primary VA health facility is part of the VA health chat pilot. See if you're able to use health chat
What should I do if I need to refill my prescription?
Please request refills as soon as possible, but no later than 10 days before you run out of your current prescription. And please check that we have your current mailing address on file in your VA.gov profile so we send your prescriptions to the right address. If you need to, you can sign in to change your address online.
Note: If you currently get your prescription sent to you by mail, you’ll continue to receive your refill requests as normal.
You'll need to actively request your refill in one of these ways:
Online with the My HealtheVet prescription refill and tracking tool.Through your mobile device with our new Rx Refill mobile app.By phone. Call the number on your prescription label for your VA pharmacy's automated refill line or to speak to a pharmacy representative. Be sure to have your Rx number from the prescription label and Social Security number ready.By mail. Complete the prescription refill form that came with your medication. Mail the form to the VA pharmacy address listed on your medication paperwork.
For questions about your prescriptions, send a secure message to your health care team through My HealtheVet or call your local VA medical center.
What should I do if I run out of refills on my prescription?
You can request a prescription renewal in one of these ways:
Call the number on your prescription label. Be sure to have your Rx number from the prescription label and Social Security number ready. For some medications, your health care team may need to contact you before you can get more medication.Send a secure message to your provider through My HealtheVet.Call your local VA medical center.
Find a VA location
If your prescription renewal requires an in-person evaluation
If you need to renew a prescription for a medication that requires an in-person evaluation, we've temporarily updated our policy to allow this type of evaluation through telehealth (phone or video) appointment.
To request a telehealth appointment for a prescription renewal, send a secure message to your provider through My HealtheVet.
Can I use emergency care?
If you’re experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest ER.
If you have an urgent care need, we ask that you contact us first. You can use secure messaging or call your facility’s advice nurse before going to a clinic or walk-in urgent care facility. By not using the ER for nonmedical emergencies, you can help us protect you, medical staff, and other patients, as well as help us address critical medical needs first during this period of COVID-19 outbreak.
Symptoms that may need emergency medical (immediate) attention include:
Chest painNumbness or tingling in your arms or on one side of your bodySevere fever or violent vomitingBleeding that doesn’t stop
Symptoms that may need urgent care attention (within 24 to 48 hours) include:
Sore throat, earacheSprains or strained muscles from sports or exerciseMinor cuts and injuries
Note: For emergencies, you don’t need a referral or approval from VA to go to an ER in your community (an ER that's not a VA facility).
How do I know if my VA health facility is still open for regular appointments?
Because this is a rapidly changing situation, the best way to get the most up-to-date facility information is to check your local VA health facility’s website. Find a VA location
Can I visit a patient at a VA facility?
We're currently following CDC guidelines and limiting visitors for patients receiving care in a VA facility, including a hospital, nursing home, or spinal cord injury and disorder center. Limiting outside visitors helps us protect older Veterans and those who already have health issues.
We do make an exception for Veterans who qualify as a "compassionate case." This means the Veteran is in their last stage of life in a hospice unit and you can only visit that Veteran’s room. We know this is difficult for families, but we're taking these precautions to protect the most vulnerable patients from community spread of the coronavirus.
Learn about the steps we’re taking to protect Veterans in nursing homes.
Visit the CDC website for more tips on stopping community spread.
Benefit payments, claims, and claim exams
Will my benefit payment be delayed because of COVID-19?
We’re currently processing all benefit payments as normal. Benefit payments include payments for disability, pension, education payments to your school, and more.
View your VA benefit payments online
My school changed all classes to online. Will I still qualify for my GI Bill benefits?
Yes. If you’re currently receiving GI Bill benefits, payments will continue automatically. You don’t have to do anything. We know that many schools have changed to online classes in response to COVID-19. You’ll continue to receive the same monthly housing allowance payments you received for resident training until December 21, 2020, or until your school resumes normal operations.
We’re working closely with schools to ensure enrollments are accurately certified and processed.
If you have specific questions, you can contact the Education Call Center toll-free at 888-442-4551, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET.
Are VA regional offices closed?
We’ve temporarily closed all of our 56 regional offices for in-person visits, following current CDC guidelines to prevent community spread.
Our regional office staff is still available by phone and through our online customer service tool. We’re continuing to support services like educational counseling, collecting information for fiduciary claims, and specially adaptive housing assistance by phone or by video conferencing tools like VA Video Connect (or other approved video meeting tools).
To call your regional office for help with benefits, call 800-827-1000 toll-free.
To check on the status of your claim or appeal, use our online claim status tool.
For other benefit questions, you can also send your question to our online customer service tool called IRIS (Inquiry Routing & Information System).
How can I stay updated on regional office closures or service interruptions?
For the latest status of our regional offices and other benefit services, you can:
Visit the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) news page. Call the benefits hotline toll-free at 800-827-1000. Follow us on social media.
VBA Twitter: @VAVetBenefits
How do I contact my local regional office?
Our regional office staff is still providing benefits help by phone and through our online customer service tool. Call us toll-free at 800-827-1000. Or send your question to our online customer service tool called IRIS (Inquiry Routing & Information System).
Is VA still doing claim exams (also called compensation and pension, or C&P, exams)?
Yes, we're still doing exams to rate potential disabilities, diagnose health conditions, and determine service-connected disabilities. We’re doing many exams virtually by phone, videoconference, or online. We’re also doing more records reviews using Acceptable Clinical Evidence (ACE). This means we’ll review your existing medical records instead of requiring an in-person or telehealth exam.
If your claim requires an in-person exam and we can’t conduct the exam in person
We’ll contact you to reschedule the exam for a later date. Please make sure we have your up-to-date mailing address, phone number, and email address.
Update your contact information online
If you have questions or would like to proactively reschedule your exam, please contact your VA medical center or health facility, or send a secure message to your health care provider through MyHealtheVet as soon as possible.
If you have an in-person exam scheduled with a non-VA provider we’ve contracted with to do your exam
In order to increase our ability to do more claim exams, we’ve contracted with certain trusted health care providers across the country to conduct exams in non-VA locations.
If you have an exam appointment with a contracted provider, the provider may still conduct the exam while taking added steps to ensure your safety and the safety of the clinical staff. If you feel unsafe going to an in-person exam at this time, we can put your exam on hold until it can be rescheduled. We won’t deny a claim solely for failure to report for an exam at this time. If you have questions or need to request a hold on your exam, please contact the non-VA provider directly.
If you've completed your claim exam
You can sign in to track the status of your claim online.
Track your VA claim status
What if I had or need an in-person appointment for VA benefits or services?
We’ve temporarily closed our regional offices to the public and stopped in-person appointments. But we’re using virtual services to hold appointments for some benefit activities by telephone or online video through VA Video Connect or other approved video meeting tools. Once your video appointment is scheduled, you’ll receive a VA Video Connect link.
We’ll work with you to change your in-person appointment to a virtual appointment for benefits and services such as:
Home loans specially Adapted Housing grant vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)Chapter 36 educational counselingFiduciaryMilitary service coordinators
Please work with your VA representative to reschedule appointments. If you have questions, you can also call us at 800-827-1000. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.
What if I need to turn in paperwork for my claim or appeal?
As of April 3, 2020, we’re providing extensions for any claim or paperwork deadlines.
You can submit your paperwork late to:
Perfect a claim challenge an adverse decisionSubmit a Notice of DisagreementSubmit a Substantive AppealRespond to a Supplemental Statement of the Case
If you need a claim extension, you can simply submit your extension with any late-filed paperwork. You don’t have to proactively request an extension in advance. We’ll also accept typed or digital signatures instead of wet signatures (meaning signed in ink) on forms. If you have any questions, please call us at 800-827-1000. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.
What if I need to sign paperwork for my VA claim or other documents?
We’re not requiring physical or wet signatures (meaning signed in ink) on claims applications or other documents during this time, as long as your claim information and signature show no irregularities.
We’re accepting different forms of electronic, digital, and typed signatures for benefit and service documentation. Please work with your VA representative to find out which type of signature you’ll need for a specific benefit or service. If you have questions, please call us at 800-827-1000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.
Debt, copays, appeals, and other financial concerns
Is VA helping to make sure I get my stimulus check?
Yes. If you receive VA disability or pension benefits, you’ll automatically receive a $1,200 stimulus check from the IRS, even if you don’t file tax returns. You don’t need to do anything to receive your check.
We’re working with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and U.S. Department of the Treasury to make sure you receive your payment as soon as possible. You’ll soon be able to track your payment on IRS.gov.
If you have 1 or more dependent children under the age of 17
You may qualify for an extra $500 per child. If you didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, you must register with the IRS by May 5, 2020, to get this added amount.
Register as a non-filer on IRS.gov
If you’ve already started using the IRS’s Economic Impact Payments (EIP) portal
You can continue using the portal to give the IRS your information and track your stimulus check. This won’t cause any problems with getting your check.
Note: Use only IRS.gov to register or get information about your stimulus check. Be careful of scams. Unless you’ve asked to be contacted, the IRS will never contact you by email, phone, or text to ask for personal or financial information or to open an attachment or visit a website link.
Will my COVID-19 stimulus check lower my VA payments?
No. We won’t count any money received as part of the COVID-19 stimulus package as income for VA pension or parent Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) beneficiaries. This means your payments will stay the same.
What if I can’t pay my existing VA debt?
As of April 3, 2020, we’ve taken action to stop collection on newly established Veteran debt and make it easier for Veterans to request extended repayment plans and address other needs during this time. Please check back regularly for updates.
If you have VA debt that we’ve already transferred to the U.S. Department of the Treasury
The U.S. Department of the Treasury won’t take any more action on your debt during this time. This means they won’t add more fees or interest, reduce or withhold part of your federal or state payments or job wages to pay your debt, or refer your account to a private collection agency.
If you have VA debt being managed by VA
We’ll work with you to decide whether you’d prefer us to temporarily stop collection action, including stopping the addition of fees and interest, during this time or extending your repayment terms.
If you have debt related to VA benefits, please contact the VA Debt Management Center at 800-827-0648 to make arrangements. We’re here Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET.
If you have debt related to VA health care, please contact the Health Resource Center at 888-827-4817 to make arrangements. Be sure to have your account number ready.
What if I’m having trouble paying my VA-backed home loan during this time?
If you’re experiencing financial hardship directly or indirectly caused by COVID-19, you can request forbearance from your mortgage company. This allows you to delay payments on your loan for a period of time.
To request forbearance, contact the mortgage company that collects your payments.
Learn more about how we can help you avoid foreclosure
Will I still have to pay my VA copays during the pandemic?
As of April 6, 2020, we’ve stopped sending monthly copay billing statements for all Veterans. This means you won’t receive a bill for any copays during this time. Please check back regularly for updates.
If I’ve lost my job, can I get help with my VA copays over time?
Yes. If you're struggling because of life situations like losing your job, having a sudden decrease in income, or having an increase in out-of-pocket family health care expenses, we can help. You can request financial hardship assistance to manage your current VA copay debt or request an exemption from future copays.
Learn more about requesting financial hardship assistance
Watch a video about financial hardship options (YouTube)
You can also call our Health Resource Center at 866-400-1238 to talk to someone about your options.
What if I’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 and need immediate action on my VA appeal?
The Board of Veterans' Appeals will offer you a priority review to move your appeal to the front of the line. This is called “Advanced on the Board of Veterans’ Appeals Docket” (or AOD).
Find out how to file for AOD and required documents
Check your VA claim or appeal status online
Troops Render Final Salute for Veteran at Javits Center New York National Guard members working at Javits Center field hospital learned a veteran died of COVID-19. 60 people stood at attention & saluted. Our gratitude to these troops that render final honors for a veteran tragically lost to this pandemic.
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