MINNEAPOLIS (KARE) – High-risk veterans are being forced to attend risky exams during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a new lawsuit filed against the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Court filings in the lawsuit brought by the Veterans Legal Advocacy Group state, “the VA has caused and continues to cause immediate—and potentially irreparable—harm to veterans, their families, and their communities by scheduling risky VA exams violating nationwide and local coronavirus social distancing guidelines.”
The petition in the case asks the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to order the VA to stop performing in-person exams immediately for veterans in coronavirus hotspots and for veterans that have health conditions that put them at greater risk for the coronavirus.
“Every day this petition goes unaddressed, the VA sends veterans onto NYC subways in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic,” the court filings state.
The VA closed its 56 regional benefits offices to the public on March 19th in response to COVID-19, yet private contractors working for the VA continue to schedule benefits exams forcing veterans to attend or else risk losing their benefits according to the lawsuit.
Harold Hoffman, the attorney who filed the lawsuit says he represents a veteran who has been told he needs to show up for an in-person compensation and pension (C&P) exam next week in Queens, New York despite the city being the current epicenter of the pandemic.
“Veterans attending in-person exams are putting themselves, their examiners, and anyone they come near at risk. And they have to—or risk losing their benefits,” writes Hoffman.
KARE 11 has reached out to the Department of Veterans Affairs seeking comment and is awaiting response.
This is a developing story and will be updated as needed.