Congresswoman Elaine Luria Leads First Virtual Forum of Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee

May 27, 2020
Press Release
Chair Luria lead discussion on “Veterans’ Disability Examinations in the Time of COVID-19: A Way Forward.”

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – Today, Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs subcommittee (DAMA) Chair Congresswoman Luria presided over the first virtual forum dedicated to discussing veterans’ disability medical examinations (DMEs) during the coronavirus pandemic. The virtual forum, attended by several experts, addressed the growing compensation and pension (C&P) examinations inventory, what this buildup may mean for a claims backlog, and how the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) can safely and effectively conduct C&P exams during the current public health emergency.

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“I am concerned that the VHA’s decision to halt C&P examinations will negatively impact veterans in my district,” said Congresswoman Luria. “We need answers from the VHA regarding their plan to safely resume C&P examinations. I’m grateful to the veteran service organizations who joined me today to engage on this important issue and discuss the best path forward to protect veterans’ benefits during this unprecedented public health emergency.”

“No veteran should be denied their benefits claim as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic-- that’s why I’m so grateful that Chair Luria could host today’s virtual forum to discuss the way forward as VA begins to resume C&P exams and tackle the growing backlog,” said House Veterans Affairs Chairman Mark Takano. “Unfortunately, despite this looming backlog, VA chose not to participate today. That decision prevents Congress from learning how VA plans to resume these exams and denies veterans the opportunity to hear first-hand from the agency in charge of the process. As Chair Luria and her Subcommittee continue their oversight on this topic, I hope we can count on VA as a partner. I’m confident that if we link arms and work together, we’ll achieve the best results.”

On April 2, 2020, the Veterans Health Administration halted all DMEs and redirected all medical staff to the COVID-19 response. This caused C&P examinations to stop, which put countless veterans in a position where they would not receive these critical examinations to determine compensation even if they had been previously scheduled. As of May 20, VBA reported that 232,887 exams have been disrupted by COVID-19.

Prior to this forum, the Committee has not received a detailed plan regarding how VBA intends to safely and swiftly resume exams, when they will resume, how this will be communicated, and how they will address the backlog.

Find Congresswoman Luria’s opening statement and lines of questioning here.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.