Following the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) lead, the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) has decided to resume in-person compensation and pension (C&P) contract medical exams in 20 select locations where VHA has resumed in-person medical care.
Safety measures in place at facilities where the exams will take place “include COVID-19 screening for Veterans and employees, physical distancing and appropriate personal protective equipment to include face coverings and gloves,” per a press release announcing the resumption. "VA is working closely with its medical providers to ensure the safety of Veterans and providers remains a top priority.”
The locations include:
- Arkansas: Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (HCS)
- Arizona: VA Southern Arizona HCS
- Florida: West Palm Beach VA Medical Center (VAMC)
- Idaho: Boise VAMC
- Missouri: Kansas City VAMC
- Montana: Fort Harrison VAMC
- Nevada: VA Southern Nevada HCS
- New York: Syracuse VAMC
- North Dakota: Fargo HCS
- Ohio: Louis Stokes Cleveland VAMC
- Pennsylvania: Erie VAMC
- South Carolina: Ralph H. Johnson VAMC
- Tennessee: James H. Quillen VA HCS
- Texas: South Texas VA HCS
- Vermont: White River Junction VAMC
- Virginia: Salem VA HCS
- Washington: Puget Sound VAMC
- West Virginia: Hershel “Woody” Williams VAMC
- Wisconsin: Tomah VAMC; William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital Madison VAMC
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This partial reopening impacts approximately 14% of pending contract C&P exams. Virtual C&P exams will continue in other parts of the country to the greatest extent possible. VBA expects to continue to follow VHA’s lead on further resumptions of in-person exams and has placed David McLenachen, director of VA Appeals Modernization Office as lead for VBA’s progress on this effort.
The processing of VA disability compensation claims continues when virtual exams can be scheduled and completed. A very few specific C&P exams must be completed in-person. The VA will “pend” those decisions until an in-person exam can be scheduled and provide the veteran a partial decision on the claimed disabilities on which virtual exams were conducted so some compensation can begin.
Veterans will not be allowed to travel further than established distance limits to complete an in-person C&P exam at a reopened location.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. When will C&P exams in these 20 localities begin?
A. Contract vendors have been given opening criteria. Once they provide the VA with their implementation plans, they may then begin scheduling exams.
Q. When will other locations be resumed?
A. VBA is following VHA’s lead. As VHA opens medical centers in locations they deem safe to proceed, VBA will follow.
Q. Has the pandemic caused a major claim backlog?
A. The pending exam backlog was approximately 250,000 on May 28 – more than double the normal 110,000. However, the total claim “backlog” (claims pending more than 125 days) was 108,348 as of May 28, a figure higher than the typical 70,000 to 90,000 since 2016 but not unmanageable.