VBA Aims to Reduce C&P Exam Backlog by Fall, Congress is unsure

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April 04, 2021

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, veterans have been forced to wait longer for their VA disability benefits. The reason has been VA’s struggle to efficiently conduct compensation and pension exams – C&P Exams – at a record capacity.

Today, the Veterans Benefits Administration is reporting a backlog of about 350,000 compensation and pension exams. They attribute this backlog to a decision last April pausing in-person exams for two months during the pandemic’s height.

Since then, VBA’s contractor workforce has gradually restarted their in-person exams. Which ultimately saved them from a monstrously larger backlog from incurring. However, many veterans are still hesitant to visit a C&P site or in-person exam.

Combine that hesitation with contractors not operating at full exam capacity, and you have a recipe for disaster. The current number of disability claims pending for 125 days or longer grew from 77,000 last March to 212,000 today. The department expects to reduce that C&P inventory to 140,000 pending exams by the end of the year.

Even though C&P contractors report an operating capacity of nearly 20% higher than pre-pandemic levels, Congress isn’t so optimistic.

“This committee and the veterans who we are here to support need to know that the VA has a plan to manage this inventory… You’ve spoken and alluded to increased capacity… and a record number of exams being conducted last week and more recently. But do you have a definitive, written plan?”

– Elaine Luria (D-VA) to David McLenachen, Exec. Dir. for VBA’s Medical Disability Examination Office.

McLenachen responded saying the agency has been working with vendors to set production goals for achieving their target. With these goals, he hopes contractors can handle 45,000 C&P exams a week; their current rate is 40,000.

But a solution to this problem almost seems impossible. VBA is facing an additional 210,000 exams from now to the end of the year – about 7 months or less. To meet this goal, 30,000 additional C&P exams will need to be conducted every month.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a mountainous task ahead of them, and effectively attacking it must be priority number one. No matter what route VA decides, we will keep you up-to-date on any developments.

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