On June 1, 2016 the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it had made an error in the processing of more than 24,000 claims for compensation related to traumatic brain injury (“TBI”). Under the VA policy put into place in 2007, initial TBI Compensation and Pension (“C&P”) exams must be done by one of four specialists – a psychiatrist, a neurologist, a physiatrist or a neurosurgeon. There are also additional policies and procedures that have been put into place as the science and knowledge surrounding TBI has grown in recent years. Veterans affected by this announcement will have their claims reprocessed without having to file a new claim. Under this procedure, usually called equitable relief, the VA can award an effective date for the award of benefits back to the date of the first exam, even if the Veteran has not actively pursued the claim.
If your claim was handled incorrectly, you should receive notice from the VA. But if you filed a claim for TBI that was denied between 2007 and now, the first thing you should do is review your VA claims folder to see what type of doctor performed your exam. If it was not one of the specialists listed above, you or your attorney should notify the VA as soon as possible. The press release from the VA does not specify when or in what timeframe it will notify affected veterans or how long it will take to reprocess the claims.
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