The Coon Rapids widow of a man who died of Ebola in West Africa will begin receiving survivor benefits despite a delay in obtaining his death certificate and remains, Sen. Al Franken’s office said Monday.
Franken’s staff has advocated for the widow, Decontee Sawyer, with the Social Security Administration and the U.S. State Department since August. Sawyer’s husband, Patrick, a Liberian government official and a U.S. citizen, died during a trip to Nigeria in July.
Sawyer, a mother of three, had been unable to qualify for survivor benefits without a death certificate for Patrick, whom Nigerian officials have angrily blamed for bringing Ebola to their country.
Now, Franken’s office said the Social Security Administration notified staff members Monday that Sawyer’s benefits were approved without the death certificate, thanks to other evidence of his widely reported death.
The office said it will continue to work with the U.S. State Department to apply pressure on the Nigerian government to release Sawyer’s remains and death certificate.