Here’s a jump in numbers: a spike from 65,000 to 114,000, which spells an increase of nearly 50,000 and a percentage leap of close to 60%.
That’s not good news when it concerns stalled veterans’ cases related to disability-linked benefits.
That sizable uptick in put-on-hold claims occurred within just a recent six-month period. Officials from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs readily admit an assistance-tied slump thus far this year, and they point squarely at the present viral pandemic as the root cause for vets not being attended to.
Veterans filing disability claims are commonly tasked to appear in person at VA medical centers to participate in so-called “compensation and pension” examinations. Evaluators deem such personal interaction as being crucial for verifying service-related claims and establishing disability ratings.
As stressed above, the VA has fallen behind on a timetable to reasonably get those exams completed. In fact, the agency halted the exams altogether in early April, citing COVID-19 concerns. Scores of thousands of vets with urgent health considerations have seen their benefit applications summarily sidetracked since then.
The VA now states that it is in serious catch-up mode, pointing to imminent resumption of in-person evaluations at 20 medical centers across the country. The agency has told applicants that the material processing delays would not adversely affect their claims.
Some disagree, and even find that assertion nonsensical. U.S. Rep Elaine Luria (D-VA), who chairs a key veterans committee panel, cites ongoing confusion, missing paperwork and other delay-promoting catalysts.
“It’s clear there is going to be a lot of catching up,” she recently said.
Sidetracked vets might reasonably lament that, but they are undoubtedly thankful to see the in-person process at least partially back on track.