WASHINGTON (VA) – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald has granted equitable relief to more than 24,000 Veterans following a national review of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) medical examinations conducted in connection with disability compensation claims processed between 2007 and 2015.

This action by the Secretary allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to offer new TBI examinations to Veterans whose initial examination for TBI was not conducted by one of four designated medical specialists and provides them with the opportunity to have their claims reprocessed. Equitable relief is a unique legal remedy that allows the Secretary to correct an injustice to a claimant where VA is not otherwise authorized to do so within the scope of the law.

“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 McDonald. “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.”

To ensure that TBI is properly evaluated for disability compensation purposes, VA developed a policy in 2007 requiring that one of four specialists – a psychiatrist, physiatrist, neurosurgeon or neurologist – complete TBI exams when VA does not have a prior diagnosis.

Since 2007, medicine around TBI has been a rapidly evolving science. VA designated particular specialists to conduct initial TBI exams because they have the most experience with the symptoms and effects of TBI. As more research became available, VA issued a number of guidance documents that may have created confusion regarding the policy. VA has confirmed that its TBI policy guidance is now clear and being followed.

“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.”

VA understands the importance of an accurate exam to support Veterans’ disability claims. The Secretary’s decision to grant relief will enable VA to take action on any new examinations without requiring Veterans to submit new claims. If additional benefits are due, VA will award an effective date as early as the date of the initial TBI claim.

VA will contact Veterans identified as part of this national TBI review to offer them an opportunity to receive a new examination and have their claims reprocessed. More than 13,000 of these affected Veterans are already receiving service-connected compensation benefits for TBI at a 10-percent disability evaluation or higher, which means that the diagnosis has already been established.

This is the list the Department of Veterans Affairs provided of VA Regional Benefits Offices and the number of veterans from each office who are eligible for new Traumatic Brain Injury exams.

Note: The Regional Benefits Offices include multiple VA facilities. Check this link for a directory of offices in your state: http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/division.asp?dnum=3

Station

Regional Office

Unique Veterans

318

Winston-Salem

2,992

316

Atlanta

2,091

346

Seattle

2,076

362

Houston

1,800

377

San Diego

1,394

344

Los Angeles

1,288

351

Muskogee

1,279

349

Waco

994

335

St Paul

742

322

Montgomery

950

314

Roanoke

818

317

St Petersburg

652

329

Detroit

485

341

Salt Lake City

477

325

Cleveland

428

327

Louisville

409

330

Milwaukee

383

348

Portland

370

340

Albuquerque

331

320

Nashville

309

321

New Orleans

309

326

Indianapolis

309

339

Denver

301

331

St Louis

298

345

Phoenix

277

343

Oakland

250

310

Philadelphia

234

319

Columbia

212

350

Little Rock

209

301

Boston

171

459

Honolulu

167

328

Chicago

149

307

Buffalo

133

354

Reno

102

311

Pittsburgh

102

405

White River Junction

101

306

New York

86

313

Baltimore

80

438

Sioux Falls

77

308

Hartford

77

452

Wichita

70

323

Jackson

66

315

Huntington

55

347

Boise

55

355

San Juan

54

333

Des Moines

51

334

Lincoln

47

309

Newark

46

373

Manchester

45

436

Fort Harrison

45

304

Providence

36

442

Cheyenne

27

402

Togus

25

463

Anchorage

21

372

Washington

10

437

Fargo

10

460

Wilmington

8

358

Manila

5

Total*

24,588

*This data set does not include the 317 Veterans initially identified by the Minneapolis VA Medical Center (VAMC) review and includes all C&P exams from both VHA clinicians and VBA examiners.

(Source: Veterans Affairs)