Update: As of October 2, 2020, in-person C&P exams are now available for scheduling throughout the country, but not all service areas are authorized to schedule exams that may require the removal of personal protective equipment (PPE). If your condition requires that you remove your mask or other PPE during the examination, enter your zip code in the interactive map here to see if it’s permitted in your service area.
Need help navigating these changes? Not sure what to expect at your C&P exam? Don’t hesitate to contact an attorney or VA-certified claims agents at the Leak Veteran Services today for assistance with your disability claim.
August 10, 2020
The VA has announced that it will be resuming in-person C&P exams in most locations across the country. As of August 10, VA-contracted medical exam providers will begin contacting veterans with a disability claim to schedule exams in all but a few U.S. zip codes.
The VA suspended all in-person C&P exams at the beginning of April, moving to a telehealth appointment format in an effort to minimize COVID-19 exposure. But by late May the backlog of disability claims had grown to more than 230,000 cases, and the VA had yet to clearly communicate a plan to address it. Adding to the pandemic-created backlog, the VA has seen a wave of new Agent Orange exposure claims from Vietnam veterans who are now presumed to have a service-connected disability, thanks to a new law that went into effect this year.
But that’s no excuse for the VA’s lack of communication with veterans and the public regarding changes to its claims processes during the pandemic. This was the message the House Veterans Affairs Committee heard from advocates when it held an online forum in late May to address the impact of COVID-19 on veterans’ disability exams.
Advocates have expressed concerns that vets had been reported as no-shows to their C&P exams, and subsequently had their claims denied, even when the VA contractors themselves canceled the exams. This was happening despite the VA’s own directive not to deny any claims caused by pandemic-related disruptions. The VA was conspicuously absent from the forum, prompting advocates to call for more transparency and strong planning from the VA.
The next day the VA announced they would be resuming in-person C&P exams in select service areas. By July 9, when the VA’s Director of the Medical Disability Examinations Program Office spoke to the public, that area had grown to cover 81 percent of the country.
Now that area of service resumption has been expanded to encompass most of the country, with the exception of a large swathe of Mississippi bordering Georgia, a region that has seen a big increase in new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, and smaller pockets of North Carolina and Virginia. Enter your zip code in the interactive map here to confirm that service has resumed in your area.
The VA assures veterans that C&P exams “are being safely conducted all over the country through the assistance of contracted medical facilities established to ensure the safety of veterans and providers.” But with COVID-19 not contained in many parts of the country, it is unclear what, if anything has changed in the VA’s approach to conducting medical exams in-person. The announcement gives no specific safety measures that are being taken. And with no clear resolution to the pandemic in sight, it is also unclear how long the VA will be able to offer in-person exams in all locations.
For now, the VA has determined that it’s safe enough to resume in-person C&P exams, which are crucial to substantiating veterans disability claims. In the event that in-person exams have to be suspended again, veterans need not worry. When a grant of benefits is determined, it is dated back to the original claim date.
Need help navigating these changes? Contact an attorney or VA-certified claims agents at the Leak Veteran Services today for assistance with your disability claim.