VA Regional Office Boasts 60 Percent Error Rate

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Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) in Los Angeles has problems when it comes to processing disability claims. Roughly 60 percent of all disabled veterans claims contain errors, according to a recent investigation.

The numbers are based on a random sample of 90 disability claims. Of those, 54 were not processed accurately. While Veterans Affairs OIG claims the sample size does not mean overall accuracy suffers, I think it is safe to assume the Los Angeles RO has problems.

The report, “Inspection of the VA Regional Office Los Angeles, California,” found numerous problems with the VA Regional Office in question.

The problems the audit found within disability claims processing were:

  • The VARO lacked effective controls and accuracy in processing some disability claims.
  • Staff used insufficient medical examination reports to process traumatic brain injury claims.
  • Further, errors in herbicide exposure-related disability claims occurred because staff incorrectly interpreted policy.
  • VARO management did not ensure staff properly processed mail, or accurately addressed Gulf War veterans’ entitlement to mental health treatment.
  • Inadequate monitoring of corrective actions on prematurely closed claims and lack of management controls over the processing of oldest pending claims resulted in significant delays.

The Veterans Affairs OIG found that a small group of veterans were overpaid by a total of $922,886. This means that had the LA Regional Office conducted its claims processing right, the VA would have saved almost $1 million.

In all, there were 12 significant errors relating to Temporary 100 Percent Disability Evaluations.

Over 50 percent off all Traumatic Brain Injury claims were incorrectly processed. “Interviews with [rating officials] revealed that despite recent training, VSC staff did not adhere to VBA policy and used their own interpretations of incomplete or inconclusive medical examination results to decide TBI claims.” Scary.

I know very few companies that would allow employees to deviate from standard operating procedures so much so that it negatively impacts the company and customer. Here, the Los Angeles Regional Office does not seem to care about training or protocol.

Veterans with pending claims at this regional office or with claims previously decided should get copies of their files. You may have been short changed by a VA employee not following the rules.

I have always found reports like this to be interesting. VA is quick to point out where it overpaid, and they probably made the disabled veteran pay ever cent back. On the other hand, they rarely if ever quantify how much veterans did not get paid where VA lowballed the veteran.

Here is are the tallies for the audit:

https://www.va.gov/oig/publications/report-summary.asp?id=2660

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