More than 24,000 veterans who received examinations but were not diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) will be eligible for new medical examinations, the VA has announced. Due to confusing guidance documents, the original examinations were not conducted by a psychiatrist, physiatrist, neurosurgeon, or neurologist as mandated by VA policy. The 24,000 veterans may be eligible for additional benefits and service-connected compensation based on the results of the new examinations.
“Traumatic Brain Injury is a signature injury in veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and VA is proud to be an organization that sets the bar high for supporting these, and all, veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald in a statement. “Providing support for veterans suffering from a TBI is a priority and a privilege, and we must make certain they receive a just and fair rating for their disabilities.”
The current VA policy dates to 2007 and requires that a specialist complete a TBI examination when VA does not have a prior diagnosis. However, given the rapidly changing science around TBI since 2007, the VA has issued multiple additional guidance documents. These additional guidance documents, the VA notes, “created confusion regarding the policy.”
“We let these veterans down,” Secretary McDonald said. “That is why we are taking every step necessary to grant equitable relief to those affected to ensure they receive the full benefits to which they are entitled.”
Veterans will not be required to submit new claims and the VA has pledged to contact the identified patients to offer them a new examination. According to the VA > 13,000 veterans are already receiving 10% or higher service-connected compensation benefits for TBI.