VA Disability Exams to Resume in Some Places as Backlog Grows
Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) July 6, 2020 – Twenty VA health facilities will resume face-to-face pension and disability compensation exams in coming weeks as the Department of Veterans Affairs enters phase one of its plan to resume operations. Since the shutdown, the backlog of such exams, which are required for those who file disability claims to confirm the diagnosed medical condition and establish a disability rating.
The backlog for these visits was around 65,000 in November 2019. Since the VA stopped all non-emergency, in-person appointments and exams at its facilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in early April, the backlog has nearly doubled. It now sits at 114,000 cases and will likely climb even higher.
“This is just one more way that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected life for veterans,” said James G. Fausone, lead attorney at Legal Help for Veterans, a VA claim firm in Northville, Michigan. “It was nearly impossible to balance the health and safety of VA facility staff and veterans, some of whom are extremely vulnerable to novel coronavirus infections, with the extreme need to keep VA processes moving. Unfortunately, this will be something that takes a long time to reconcile.”
Many have criticized the unclear information released by the VA about reopening. Lawmakers have asked for allowances on the VA’s exam processes, such as allowing virtual exams for disability claim visits or for nurse practitioners to conduct them, in an attempt to cut down on the wait. Others fear that new measures designed to cut down on the backlog will result in mistakes that hold up the claims process even further and create even further frustration.
The twenty VA facilities that will resume the exams are the first ones to be reopened for in-person appointments. Some of them, however, are still treating active coronavirus cases. So far VA facilities report more than 2,000 VA patients were treated for the virus and 1,200 of them died.
Legal Help for Veterans, located in Northville, Michigan, exclusively serves veterans with their VA disability cases. For more information, visit https://www.legalhelpforveterans.com/.