VA Claims Backlog

Benjamin KrauseVA OIG found a massive claims backlog at St. Petersburg VA Regional Office employees sat on over 41,900 mail packages submitted by veterans to support their claims.

OIG also found over 1,600 boxes were also awaiting processing at the CACI scanning facility in Georgia.

Overall Claims Backlog Problem

The OIG found a boatload of problems at both facilities. Government contractors were comingling veterans’ claims documents with other documents. There was no oversight of contractor behavior for the company CACI International Inc., which is the government contractor responsible for scanning in veterans’ claims documents.

160107 Claims Backlog PhotosSo now VA employees are not even capable of scanning documents? Why was such a meaningless task outsourced?

An anonymous tip also alleged that the St. Petersburg VA Regional Office also experienced problems with its “Evaluation Builder” that resulted in numerous veterans receiving improper ratings. OIG did not substantiate that claim.

The Veterans Benefits Administration failed to provide adequate of contractor personnel to ensure they were processing and safeguarding veterans’ claims documentation.

DOWNLOAD: VBMS Claims Processing Investigation

Here is the executive summary of the report:

Review of Alleged Problems With VBA’s Veterans Benefits Management System and Claims Backlog

In July 2014, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) Hotline received an allegation from an anonymous complainant stating that significant problems existed with claims processing and the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) at the VA Regional Office (VARO) in St. Petersburg, FL. The complainant also alleged that a VBMS claims processing tool, “Evaluation Builder,” broke down often and incorrectly calculated veterans’ disability claims, potentially costing the Government millions of dollars. We substantiated the allegation regarding a significant backlog of unprocessed hard copy veteran material resulting from inefficient preparation and handling of veteran provided documentation at a contractor facility. More specifically, according to VBA personnel and our observation of VBA portal metrics, the St. Petersburg VARO had more than 41,900 mail packages of veterans’ claims material that were backlogged and over 1,600 boxes awaiting processing at the CACI scanning facility. We also observed a significant amount of hard copy veterans’ claims evidence that was improperly stored, comingled with contractor documentation, or was disorganized and not ready for scanning. The significant backlog of unprocessed claims evidence occurred due to a large increase in volume of veterans’ claims at the end of 2014 and the VARO’s inadequate preparation of hard copy veteran material for scanning at the contractor facility. Furthermore, VBA did not provide effective oversight of contractor personnel to ensure timely processing or safeguarding of veteran information at the contractor facility. We did not substantiate the allegation that “Evaluation Builder,” broke down often or incorrectly calculated veterans’ disability claims. We recommended that the Under Secretary for Benefits ensure the St. Petersburg VARO consistently organized and mailed hard copy veteran material to contractor scanning facilities. Additionally, we recommended that the Under Secretary for Benefits initiate onsite reviews of the contractor scanning facilities to ensure efficient scanning practices and the proper safeguarding of sensitive VA information at those facilities. The Acting Under Secretary for Benefits concurred with our findings and recommendations.

Source: http://www.va.gov/oig/publications/report-summary.asp?id=3660

Kirk R
After reading the report Ben linked to this article just wanted to add that in addition to the more than 41,900 mail packages of veterans’ claims material that were backlogged and over 1,600 boxes awaiting processing at the CACI scanning facility the following. “Furthermore, at the contractor facility, we observed numerous pallets of boxes containing significant amounts of hard copy veterans’ claims material that required processing and were more than 30 days old according to pallet tracking labels.” Whether that… Read more »
namnibor
I am betting the VA will now get a VA Contractor to open their damn mail!!!!!!!!!!! What **exactly** does the AFGE allow their Union Employees to do as far as “work”??? One would think that the VA would scan documents themselves but I am thinking that is part of the “backlog shuffle”…so much easier to pass the responsibility and blame on an outside contractor for WOK THE VA SHOULD BE DOING. Seriously??!!! How freaking hard is it to open mail… Read more »
crazy elf

Help me out. I seem to remember something about St. Pete’s VARO coming under fire back around mid 2014, I could be wrong, for veterans “personal info” being used by a “outsourced companies employees”?
I wonder if it was the VARO or the VAMC (Tampa) or in St. Pete?

Either way, this has to be something out of a Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone”!
It’s the same old B/S over and over.

namnibor
@crazyelf- Funny you mention that because I was JUST thinking about even privacy and HIPPA Laws, as well as the concrete fact that *every* Veteran’s Social Security # is on every PAGE of these docs…our ‘serial number’ or ‘C-File’. Why would *anyone but* VA Employees having their hands and eyes on these documents? Considering how the VA seems to hire predators of various varieties why not some massive Identity Theft or worse? Siphoned benefits from deceased Veterans, as a proposed… Read more »
Kirk R

I am pretty sure they know who they are hiring might want to check out the link below to their websites and check out the careers available through them at the CIA.

“http://careers.caci.com/key/cia-Reston-VA-190.html”

Kirk R

I guess they must want to know about All Veterans filing claims. So you were right when you said; ““Twilight Zone” is appropriate but I am thinking more along “The X-Files” type of thing mixed with Sterling’s Stories.”

crazy elf
The problem I’m having with “outsourcing” to a private company is; 1.) Do the employees go through a “security clearance” proceedure? It would seem detrimental IF a person of “questionable character” were hired to be granted access to “sensitive materials”! 2.) Are they, once cleared, “bonded”? I believe, anyone who is hired to “view sensitive materials” MUST BE BONDED! 3.) Is there some reason for not “filing” the records in an orderly and timely manner? Could this be because the… Read more »
namnibor
Yep! I had to be officially BONDED when I worked for 6 years as a Docket and Document Clerk at a huge Syndicated Law Firm in their Asbestos Litigation Division. That also included a background check even though I held high clearances in USAF. I too, wonder how these outside contractors handling sensitive veteran and military service records are vetted, if at all? What’s next? The VA having ISIS members looking at such files because they send just about everything… Read more »
Cantigny
i’ve read of this VARO before in recent years. surprise, surprise, oh my, this is in jiffy-miller’s state no less. jiffy-miller one of the countrys’ lawmakers and a VA committee member. who can’t or won’t rein in such mass abuses and thug behaviour at VA. all their fancy political rhetoric for simply a job of window dresser. next deployment call, you congress folks go, guys & gals in our realm be tared of dying, injured, mis-diagnosed-treated illnesses-(purposely) and being lab… Read more »
James

Employees are not doing their jobs. So someone has to do it.probably a company with family ties to the VA.

Who’s regulations are they using for security.yes they could sell the information and who’s going to know.why have VA employees at all.

To many chiefs and not enough braves. No wonder so many veterans don’t get their disability.it was probably done on purpose so the VA can blame an outside source and not be liable.

It wasn’t me

Hondo
The letter in response to the investigation from Acting Under Secretary of Benefits, Danny G.I. Pummill basically says the report is full of lies and the investigators were wrong. He goes on to explain that they didn’t see what they reported to have seen and the things they saw weren’t really there because VBA didn’t see them. The brown boxes weren’t white so they couldn’t have been there because they only use white boxes and the brown boxes that were… Read more »
James

Duuuuuuuu really. Duuuuuuu the VA always had an excuse and would never except responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

The VA never does anything wrong and if they do they use people to cover it up. This country is going down the drain.veterans will never get any respect from higher management.a bunch of self fulfilling criminals.

crazy elf

@HONDO
A “redefining” moment! As Gibson would say!

johnny5
Thanks to the anonymous tipster that reported this. I don’t know for sure how to look at the situation. I submitted a claim 27 May 2015, St Pete finished it for me 2 Sep 2015. Screwed up the ratings, so I resubmitted reconsideration, which they processed and completed 4 Jan 2016. The second time around they it all right, I’m a happy camper. As far as mailing info goes, this stuff cant be that new. It must be stuff that… Read more »
namnibor
@johnny5 Congrats on you getting your deserved Service Connected Claim approved in record time!! 1) You should consider yourself very fortunate or lucky. 2) If your claim had evidence that was indisputably showing direct Service Connection, establishing that nexus with appropriate documents supporting all this then the way your claim went is the way it should go. 3) My own Claim took about twice as long as yours but even that is incredibly fast and I too had all copies… Read more »
crazy elf

@namnibor
You know what brother, I’m starting to believe Hickey was a scapegoat. I believe she was forced out. And paid to be silent.
I don’t know for fact, it’s just a feeling.

namnibor

I too, think she was the sacrificial lamb thrown under the VA Bus. We will probably never know unless she decided to write a tell-all book, but am thinking her eerie snuffed-out position and the timing involved, it was either McD or her or Sloan Gibson…again, only guessing here but am thinking it was an ‘administrative shuffle’ and who knows, she may now be working for Raytheon or something…she is USAF.

Like “Where’s Waldo?”, Where’s Bobby?

ronald

Hickey was a scapegoat she had to be there’s something out there bigger going on BIG TIME an it will surface.

crazybear1

So how does a new claim get processed ahead of thousands of claims waiting for two ,three, and even four years at the same office….I thought they wen on the date the claim was received ?

Denise Caldon Sorkness
As we walked down the hall to my Hearing before the Board of Veterans Appeals, Washington, D.C. in 2008, the DAV representative said to me, “Denise, the VA is never going to admit their mistake in your Claim. The VA’s unwritten policy is: “Stall, Deny and Hope They Die.” My recently released book, now on Amazon Kindle Publishing, details our family’s now 19-year battle with the VA: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018T30FNG My repeated requests to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate VA Committee,… Read more »
James

Stay strong.things will change for you.just one person has to be on your side and they will help you.

I know it seems no one cares.but one day my friend.all veterans will have their day and those that are hurting us will pay the price and hope they get about ten years.

Frank Calderon
Dear Mr. Krause: It is beginning to appear the techniques used against veterans is some type of genocide, because no one can tell me the procedures used in these veteran centers that results from this practices are deadly; all the abuse, neglect, mistreatment is not prejudicial to the health to veterans, yet all concerned that could stop it and do nothing about it. What do the ones in power to stop all the abuse that is going yet they turn… Read more »
Frank Calderon

Dear Mr. Krause:

P.S. The second sentence in my latest E-mail was meant to read no one can tell me the results from the procedures ar3 not deadly.

P>P>S. It is evident it is a deliberate to perpetrate genocide uponVETERANS
Yours for GOD and Country
Frank P. Calderon

Michael L. Warford

I began filing VA claims in 1989 and I am still filing VA claims as of today, and I still have not received the correct answer of my claims. It’s just wrong for VA to do such treatment to our fellow Disable vets. Thank you
Michael L. Warford

namnibor
@Michael L. Warford- If you do not know about the website that has a wealth of info for filing VA Claims as well as Social Security is “hadit DOT COM” (just make appropriate changes as this site does not like actual web links posted), and use the search functions on that website with keywords for *anything* relating to your own claim, then start taking notes. Hope this helps if you did not know about that site or the search function… Read more »
Cantigny

i second that website too. wouldn’t have won part of one case without the help of that site.

namnibor
Ben and all: That photo of all those disheveled boxes of files and unopened mail looks like a “hoarder’s basement” or something. I bet a few generations of rats have made homes there. Also, since this is Florida, where water damage seems to be part of living there, not to mention mildew from the heavy humidity, I would worry that disheveled mess in photo is in risk of being destroyed. What if just the water sprinkler went off? I worked… Read more »
hurdey

St. Pete is the absolute worst! LA and San Diego may not be the best, but they were a breath of fresh air to NO-PROGRESS St. Pete.

It would be nice to have a map of the VA centers with Grades on various factors, so we can avoid the worst VA centers.

namnibor
If the VA were following their own Regulations and Guidelines, we would have the exact same standardized VA Experience *no matter where one resides*, but until the VA becomes truly “standardized as an institution”, we will have the systemic mess things are still in today. It’s insane that any Veteran should have to consider moving to another State just to obtain reasonable care. It works the OTHER WAY as well. People have often reported that when life happens and causes… Read more »
James
Just for information.I received a letter from Bob McDonald’s office. The letter stated I qualified for treatment outside the VA system.because I live over 40 miles from a VA hospital.not clinic. I called the number in the letter and the employee told me I qualified even though they have a clinic two blocks away. The employee said she was going to make an appointment with a doctor in my area.lost the call. Called back and spoke with another employee and… Read more »
Wade

Hey, James, I would call AGAIN!! Don’t wait! Maybe a not so thorough employee. Have found the squeaky wheel usually gets the grease.

91Veteran

Given how the IG was operating in 2014, I bet the only reason why they investigated was because it was alleged that their miscalculation was costing them money.
I also bet this can be found at numerous VAROs.

James Hall
Went through ST.Petersburg Bay Pines V.A. IN 05. I got so feed up with then and the service reps standing around drinking there coffee in there cheep suits and cheep silk ties, I rode the buss to the federal bldg. to see about the progress of my calm [ it had been years] . Got so pissed I got all of my records and applied to the court of Veterans appeals . Decided to take a chance, either they were… Read more »
Cantigny

i say Congrats! here’s to hope for the remaining veterans in this same fight/struggle and prevailing.

James
I think it’s pretty bad.when the only way most veterans can get their deserved disability us to hire a lawyer. It took me forty years And after hiring a lawyer.magically my military records were found after I was told over and over that they were destroyed in the st Louis ?. Veterans suffering from ptsd and traumatic brain injury for forty years And never treated for those conditions effects their life in a dramatic way.that nothing can get back or… Read more »
ronald
James

One would think that would be illegal.but how is the VA defining Illegal.

Phil Bulone

I’m waiting 4 years for a decision on an increase in my service connected disability on my neck which has now caused nerve damage with muscle wasting of my left hand. I’ve been sending them copies of all medical tests and numerous letters about my status and have heard nothing. I will be 70 this year and believe the VA is going to linger on its decision until I die. So sad.

Charles Johnson
Mine is over eight years old , this time , increase of knees . Also first time for unemployability claim . Appealed , original , for knees increase ( @ 40% ) , depression , unemployability . After appeal it was over five years and a call to my congressman before a compensation and pension exam was even scheduled .They then, awarded me 50% for depression , back dated to original file date . But did nothing on the other… Read more »
James
Issued 4-26-16 April 2014, Review of potential “Inappropriate split purchasing practice”. Inspector Generals Office: We found the Inappropriate split purchasing, Extended beyond the Engineering service at East Orange New Jersey, office of Acquisitions. we determined VANJHCS employees split purchases in 64 of the 76 purchase card transactions (84 Percent) which we reviewed, Totaling $125.270. This included 19 purchase card holders working in 6 different Services. Based on the results of our SAMPLE, we Estimated that VANJHCS split purchases Totaling Approximately… Read more »
Charles Johnson
VA one giant tax payer funded piggy bank for corruption and theifs . A giant Rico conspiracy . We put veterans first ? Sickest lie I’ve heard , right next to I’m from the the government and I’m here to help , the checks in the mail , I will respect you in the morning , and I won’t @$!# in your mouth ? President , congress , MC Donald and on and on promising changes that never come .… Read more »
Reuben Castro Acosta

VA ONE BIG BIG FEDERAL RICO CRIME RACKET RUN BY AFGE UNION CONTRACTS FROM HELL VETS YO ARE SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SCREWED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Joseph M Boyd Jr.

still waiting on iu nod dro claim..going on 500 days now…i get letters saying 377 days normal…started this in jan 2015 denied.. i told them i was waiting on voc rehab appointment …the va never asked for voc rehab just denied claim…..i am 80% peripheral neuropathy camp lejeune water hazard …i guess no bonus for nod dro that what it takes so long………..

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