U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Provides Relief for Veterans with TBIs

woman holding head

Recently, Robert McDonald, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs granted equitable relief to well over 24,000 veterans living with traumatic brain injuries. This action came about after a national review of traumatic brain injury medical examinations was conducted in association with disability compensation claims processed between the years 2007 and 2015. This change will allow the VA to offer different TBI examinations to veterans whose examinations for TBI were not conducted by one of the four medical specialists. In addition, this will give these veterans the opportunity to reprocess their disability claims.

In addition, equitable relief will allow the Secretary to remedy injustices to claimants where the VA was not legally authorized to follow through with such actions. In 2007, the VA designed a policy that would require one of the following four specialists to conduct TBI examinations to ensure that patients were adequately and properly evaluated:

  • Psychiatrist
  • Physiatrist
  • Neurosurgeon
  • Neurologist

Since then, science regarding TBI has continued to rapidly evolve, allowing the VA to understand that the specialists listed above are most familiar with the effects and symptoms of TBI, given their areas of specialty.

Shedding light on the changes, Secretary McDonald explained that in the past, the VA has let many veterans down. However, the VA’s new focus will ensure that they take every necessary step to provide equitable relief to the veterans affected so that they can obtain the benefits they are entitled to receive.

How Will This Affect Veterans Who Have Already Submitted New Claims?

This recent decision will allow the VA to take action on new exams without requiring Veterans to resubmit claims. If the examinations determine that benefits are owed, the VA will award an effective date that may be as early as the date of the first claim. Once the VA has identified the veterans who are entitled to receive new examinations and reprocessed claims, the VA will contact these persons. As of now, over 13,000 veterans have already received service-connected compensation for traumatic brain injury at a 10% disability evaluation or more, meaning the diagnoses were already established.
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