Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

June 2020 Archives

Video Consultative Examinations

The Social Security Administration recently updated its policy regarding the use of video teleconferencing technology for psychiatric and psychological consultative examinations (CEs). Under POMS DI 22510.012, SSA stated that video consultative examinations can be held in areas where qualified psychiatric and psychological CE sources are limited or unavailable and "in situations where claimant cannot access an in-person CE due to incarceration or medical concerns." The new policy states that if the CE is scheduled by video, the Claimant has the right to request an in-person CE without penalty and only allows video CEs to be performed for psychological exams that do not require any testing and only when the Claimant agrees.

VA BACKLOG EXPANDS AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the VA suspended in person compensation and pension examinations (C&Ps). There were more than 230,000 C&Ps scheduled which were suspended pending the pandemic. Lawmakers frrm the House met on May 27, 2020 to discuss the growing problem. However, no one from the VA attended the meeting.

VA CONTINUES TO DENY AGENT ORANGE AND OTHER TOXIN EXPOSURE ON GUAM

Previously, this blog discussed a study, from the National Veterans Legal Services Program and Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School, which showed that Veterans who served in Guam from 1962 to 1975 were likely exposed to toxins, including Agent Orange. Many Veterans who have served in Guam have asked for VA benefits due to their exposure to Agent Orange and other toxins. However, the VA has been reluctant to acknowledge those claims.

VA Currently Lacks Adequate Medical Protective Gear for Possible 2nd Wave of COVID-19

Recent reports have revealed that the VA healthcare system currently lacks the needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for its medical staff and healthcare workers should a second wave of COVID-19 cases impact the United States. During the peak of the pandemic the VA's 170 medical centers used 250,000 N95 masks on a daily basis, using almost 2 million N95 masks per week.

VA to Reopen Facilities in Three Stage Plan

The VA has rolled out a three-part plan to reopen VA healthcare facilities and Regional Offices in the coming months. The three-stage plan is subject to new spikes in COVID cases and local restrictions that may delay the reopening plan, but VA is hopeful they will be able to move forward with this plan without delay. VA's new plan has three major stages for reopening:

IMPROVED ACCESS FOR TELEHEALTH OPTIONS

During this time of uncertainty, with limited office hours and social distancing precautions, receiving medical treatment can be very difficult. The difficulty is especially felt by Veterans who have already been dealing with long wait times and overburdened VA medical facilities. For that reason, more and more Veterans are turning to telehealth appointments as an efficient and more convenient way of speaking with their physician. Tricare has now begun offering insurance coverage for telehealth visits by telephone and has eliminated patient co-pays and cost shares for telehealth options during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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