May 29 (UPI) -- The Department of Veterans Affairs, with a backlog of 114,000 cases, announced that it will resume in-person disability examinations at some VA medical centers.
Although examinations were slowed by actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the VA had a backlog of 65,000 cases in November 2019. The agency said Thursday that 20 VA medical centers in 19 states would open in the coming weeks for "Compensation & Pension" examinations, a standard procedure for assigning financial and medical benefits to veterans. A starting date wasn't announced.
"Resuming C&P exams allows VA to continue delivering the benefits our Veterans have earned," VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. "We're keeping the safety of veterans and our medical providers as our highest priority and have put a robust set of measures in place to ensure medical providers can safely conduct these examinations."
The examinations were halted in April because of concerns regarding the spread of the virus. Earlier this week, the House Veterans' Affairs Committee questioned why information regarding the return of the examinations was not available.
The 20 chosen sites began providing non-emergency patient services earlier in May as part of a first phase of re-opening hospitals in light of the pandemic. The hospitals include those in White River Junction, Vt.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Erie, Pa.; Huntington, W.Va.; Danville, Va.; Charleston, S.C.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Johnson City, Tenn.; Cleveland, Ohio; Tomah, Wis.; Shorewood Hills, Wis.; Kansas City, Mo.; Little Rock, Ark.; San Antonio, Texas; Fort Harrison, Mont.; Seattle, Wash.; Boise, Idaho; Las Vegas, Nev.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Fargo, N.D.