American Legion Media Relations Director Paul Harris from the Washington, D.C., office recently spoke with David McLenachen, executive director of Medical Disability Examinations Program Office for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to discuss compensation and pension (C&P) exams.
“When a veteran applies for a compensation or pension, in many cases, an exam has to be done to determine the level of disability,” McLenachen said. “Without an examination, generally, we cannot complete a claim.”
In-person exams have been suspended since early April, creating a backlog. While there is typically an average workload of 110,000 exams that are pending through contract providers, there are a little over 300,000 currently pending. Typically, said McLenachen, vendors turn that average workload around in 20 to 30 days.
“We have a lot of veterans waiting for these examinations to be done,” he said. “They’ve been interrupted by the pandemic. We need to get these exams moving as safely and quickly as possible.”
The initial rollout to restarting C&P exams is a partial one, but veterans who don’t live in the initial rollout areas need not worry. VA will hold the claims until an in-person can be safely performed. And when a grant of benefits is determined, said McLenachen, it will be dated back to the original claim date.
“I am really happy to report that as of today, we’ve gone from about 13 percent of the pending inventory being opened up for exams to about 81 percent, so most of the country is now covered by in-person exams. Now, it’s a matter of getting those exams scheduled.
“We have to maintain that balance of at what point does it become unsafe where we need to suspend again and we will do that if necessary.”
To learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic and to find information on C&P exams and locations, visit here.