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Many people may not be aware that the federal government has a fund called the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program, or CICP, to compensate COVID-19 victims and their families.

Congress developed CICP to pay families who lost a relative as a direct result of receiving treatments in connection with COVID-19 treatment. Benefits pay for death expenses, lost wages and medical bills.

Jonathan Levitt, co-founder of the healthcare law firm Frier Levitt based in Pine Brook, said the CICP claims can be difficult to file.

First, there is a form to fill out. Then a relative must submit medical records and get authorizations for the deceased's medical history in the past year.

Causation must also be established in four elements: confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, proof of death, a covered treatment, and proof that the countermeasure resulted in death.

Levitt said there is a limited right to appeal decisions so getting a lawyer to handle the claim is advisable.

The fund was created by Congress for the swine flu and ebola. While there were many claims made for these pandemics, Levitt said for COVID-19 there have been few so far. His firm has not submitted any claims because they need to have nurses, physicians, pharmacists and lawyers review thousands of pages of medical records per case.

If the claim is approved, a person can receive exactly $365,670, regardless of income.

There is a lost wage benefit up to $50,000. In addition to that, if a family has out-of-pocket medical expenses not paid by insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, they can file a claim to have those out-of-pocket medical expenses paid.

Levitt said surviving relatives have one year to file a claim from the date that they were administered the treatment that led to death.

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