IG: VA Improperly Paid Incarcerated Veterans $59 Million

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incarcerated veterans

incarcerated veterans

An IG audit of Veterans Benefits Administration’s incarcerated veterans adjudications found the agency is failing to fulfill its duty to adjust payments in accordance to the law.

The law requires VA to cut certain benefits payouts to veterans who are incarcerated for longer than 60 days. The audit found VA was not prioritizing these claims, which resulted in substantial overpayments.

Once many of those veterans are released from their incarceration, they are then billed for the overpayment resulting in hardship for the veteran in question.

The IG report summary reads:

We conducted this audit to determine whether the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) was adjusting compensation and pension (C&P) benefits payments timely for veterans incarcerated in Federal, state, and local penal institutions. Federal law requires VBA to reduce C&P benefits for veterans incarcerated for more than 60 days in a Federal, state, or local penal institution. VA Regional Office (VARO) and Pension Management Center (PMC) staff did not consistently take action to adjust C&P benefits for veterans incarcerated in Federal penal institutions. Specifically, based on Federal incarceration data ranging from May 2008 through June 2015, VBA did not adjust veterans’ C&P benefits, as required, in an estimated 1,300 of 2,500 cases (53 percent), which resulted in improper payments totaling approximately $59.9 million. Without improvements, we estimated VBA could make additional improper benefits payments totaling about $41.8 million for Federal incarceration cases from fiscal year (FY) 2016 through FY 2020. VARO and PMC staff also did not take consistent and timely action to adjust C&P benefits for veterans incarcerated in state and local penal institutions. Based on incarceration notifications received from March 2013 to August 2014—the most current data available at the time of our audit—VBA did not effectively adjust veterans’ C&P benefits in an estimated 3,800 of 21,600 state and local incarceration cases (18 percent), which resulted in significant delays and improper payments totaling approximately $44.2 million. Without improvements, we estimated VBA could make additional improper benefits payments totaling about $162 million for state and local incarceration cases from FY 2016 through FY 2020. In total, we estimated improper benefit payments of about $307.9 million. In general, VBA did not place priority on processing incarceration adjustments because VBA did not consider these non rating claims to be part of the disability claims backlog. Both VBA Central Office and VARO staff consistently reported that incarceration adjustments were not a high priority. We recommended the Acting Under Secretary for Benefits increase the priority of VBA’s incarceration adjustment workload. The Acting Under Secretary for Benefits concurred with our recommendations. Management’s planned actions were responsive and we will follow up as required.

In a day and age when the agency is penny pinching on practically every front, how is it that they are failing to adjudicate these very straightforward cases that would result in an substantial savings over time?

Source: https://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-13-02255-276.pdf

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24 Comments

  1. My question simply is this: Just how many of these continued Disability Payments were actually *diverted* to VA Fiduciaries? How many of those Veterans incarcerated were ALREADY under the auspices of the VA’s Fiduciary Program and when Veterans incarcerated, the VA Appointed Fiduciary DID NOT follow-through in reporting, but YET continued to receive those payments FOR the Veterans incarcerated? There HAS to be much MORE to this story. Period.

    I ask the above questions because something SMELLS OF A NEST OF RATS IN WOODPILE. The VA *always* picks-up if any given Veteran OWES for even a dollar or two or even change, if the VA thinks your Travel Pay is an overcharge….so HOW THE HELL does the VA think they can use the BACKLOG AS AN EXCUSE to be too busy to notice?
    Too busy to pull both thumbs out of their asses? R-r-r-r-r-r-r-I-g-h-t!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Is anyone at the VA going to get fired for this stupid oversight? Hell, the VA probably only found this because someone must have determined something must be eating into their Non Performance Bonuses (NPB) or rainy day spa retreat funds! 🙂

    I suspect this is ALL just part of the VA’s set-up for begging Congress for more $$$ for hiring, yet on the other hand the VA could also blame this on their piss poor IT state of affairs…either way, it’s foreshadowing a money grab….wait for it…

    • Maybe it was part of the Secret Government ‘Cash For Criminals’ program, and Hillary accidentally spilled the beans in her blog! LOL

  2. So…A Vet gets busted, say for the pot he smokes to try and not get addicted to the tons of drugs the VA is trying to get him to take for pain instead of fixing his bad knee or bad back or whatever is causing the pain…and on top of that, when he’s in more than 60 days, you take away his benefits? How in hell is that fair? Then the VA fails to do their job and lower his Benefits and when he gets out, he owes the VA money? So on top of every other problem he has as an ex con his not only broke from no benefits but he also has the VA hounding him for money he doesn’t have? How in hell is that fair?

    • Someone’s head needs to be on the payroll chopping block, as this is more than a mere oversight when YEARS GO BY and all the sudden the VA *notices* this? I think it’s more along lines of the VA is almost out of $$ already or is, and decided to use a teaspoon of that VA Kryptonite called Accountability, but NOT for their OWN oversights, but to go after and blame the Veterans Incarcerated…somehow, I see the VA blaming Veterans here rather than the VA’s mistake….however, the VA never ever makes a *mistake* in a Veteran’s favor BUT AFGE VA Employees…NO PROBLEM!

      Dare I even bring-up that the VA down in Louisiana where a VA Medical Ass. KILLED an in-bed Veteran Patient via blunt force and IS STILL WORKING FOR THE VA? HOW THE HELL IS THIS EVEN REMOTELY FAIR?????

      • If the VA is suddenly concerned about money, one should ask them how much was wasted on Rubens, Graves and Helman preparing lame cases against them, screwing them up, trying to lamely fight to fire them, then having to hire at least two of them back.
        If the VA is suddenly concerned about money, perhaps they should have done something about VA managers committing blatant fraud for bonuses in the wait time scandal, which went on for years. I bet that fraud alone cost millions.
        If the VA were concerned about money, perhaps they should have more closely reviewed $142 million in bonuses they handed out in 2014 in the middle of a massive claims backlog, massive wait times and daily scandals including the Denver money pit.
        If the VA or anyone in Congress were concerned about money, they could audit the $22 billion IT contract they just awarded which is more than 3 times the amount spent on the NSAs new data center in Utah.

    • Ask yourself how it’s fair for a vet in State A, whose lawmakers have changed the laws either lessening the punishment for smoking pot, or allow medical MJ compared to a vet in State B busted for smoking medical MJ and is locked up for more than 60 days?
      Same thing, but the Fed monster has created a double standard when looking the other way when some states allow medical MJ and others arrest them for it.

  3. I agree with namnibor. There’s definitely something else going on here!
    This kind of taxpayers monies is going into somebody’s pocket.
    I also believe McDuck or Gibson will be back in front of Congress begging for more money……
    Remember, It was about this time last year VA was out of money. Actually VA was broke in April 2015. They never let on until late July.
    Right now, I don’t see any one being held accountable over this.
    I wonder how much $$$$ their going to ask for?

  4. I don’t think that this is any better than the horrifically unfair Republican (both of these) idea to throw someone out of their public housing if someone who lives there, not even/just the leaseholder, but anyone living there is arrested (not convicted, arrested) for a single possession of a Schedule I drug than it is to demonize vets who may have been suffered enough damaged psyche or damaged brains from their service to end up in jail. TBI, depression and pain are just a couple of things that are frequently service connected that have someone bounced into prison for longer than 2 months. Hell, simple possession of pot (a Schedule I drug) here in SC can end you up in the pokey for more than 2 months. These policies are administered, if they are administered at all, on a very selective basis with some people having it held against them when the next person does not have it held against them. They were simply feel good, grandstanding, unnecessary, largely unenforceable and ineffective laws that were a gift of Newt Gingrich. Vets are all too often the victims of these kinds of laws when other groups a allowed to slide. Do away with all of them. The money to administer these types of laws far exceeds any cost savings realized.

    • @Jim & James

      There’s some indication these two VA employees were still receiving their pay AFTER they were arrested on felonies;
      1.) The young lady, I use that term loosely, arrested during the commission of armed robbery in Puerto Rico last year!
      2.) The young “nurses aid” arrested for “…beating a 71 year old vet to death…” in Louisiana last year.
      How many others haven’t been arrested, and yet, are still receiving pay?

      Something is NOT being told to the American Public!
      Until a real audit is done, by an outside firm, I believe nothing will be done!

    • good point about the parallel to housing policy. one small edit, the republicans championed it and pushed most of those ‘tough on crime” measures. but democrats largely went right along with it. especially in the 1990s. meanwhile it was not only ineffective, it was very costly

  5. I don’t understand why they take a person’s disability when they spend time in jail. !

    Do they take away pensions from former VA employees When they get jail time or people getting social security.?

    If. Your a disabled veteran. Your still a disabled veteran. No matter what. !

    To me just another example of how veterans are being screwed. !

    Now. Some are later found inocent. Will they get ALL their back pay.?

    • @James- Yes, as far as Social Security Disability Benefits, if one is incarcerated, they cease payments. However, I am thinking with Soc Sec it is 30 days or more as opposed to the VA’s 60 days or more. (please correct me if this has changed but it was the policy at least 7 years ago)

      You bring-up a great point about VA employees that we hear all so often are on ‘Administrative Leave WITH PAY’, so yes, Veterans get the red hot poker treatment but not the witch doctors at the VA or higher management.

      That VA employee medical ASS that killed the 78 year old Veteran in his hospital bed via blunt force trauma down at that Louisiana VAMC was actually allowed to go on PAID LEAVE so he could RECOVER…and is currently STILL EMPLOYED….HOW TF IS THIS FAIR?????

      This article and IG report smells of steaming poo and deep pockets somewhere.

  6. Here’s an interesting article from “military.com” out today.

    VA spent $11.6 million on guns, tactical gear and more. Yes, the Veterans Administration spent a shit-pot full of taxpayers money on SIG’s, Lugers, ammo, tactical equipment, bulletproof vests, etc., etc.!

    Now, my question is:
    “WHY”????

    • To protect their cookie jar that has the word ‘Veterans’ rubbed off it. THAT alone is reason # 547 to avoid the VA at all costs and find a proper witch doctor in the wild. The VA ALSO will more than likely be spending OODLES of $$$ along with ALL of Congress and Federal Workers…they announced today that they will be ditching the official “Raspberry Devices” and going ALL iPhone/Pads and/or Android…their choice…and you KNOW the VA and ALL their siblings will have to have the newest best devices costing hundreds of millions over what it should cost. Again, wait for it…the big $ grab is on. Pools of drool all over the place in D.C. and they know the drool is threatened by a big mop-up (Trump) so the raid is on, and destruction of what we all fought for.

      Yeah, in a MOOD today.

  7. These were feel good laws to show that Congress cares. Both sides too. So compensation is not compensation and what you pay into Social Security really isn’t yours. This country is a joke! Would any of you seriously serve again or encourage children or grandchildren to serve? I sure don’t.

    • Providing I had kids, yes, I would still recommend the USAF. In spite of various circumstances and my own chronic health issues and experience with the VA, I still hold true that serving your country in Active Duty is a very enriching experience on so many levels and everyone’s experience and journey is different, regardless of UCMJ, we still have to contend with that ‘human element’ and that unfortunately shows itself on steroids in the VA and other Federal Agencies.

      So in spit of it all, yes. However, I truly believe that a DRAFT that was totally on equal playing field for ALL with the one caveat that ALL children of or remotely related to members of Congress should be at the very top of the lottery picks as a form of checks and balances…and…require ALL members of Congress to utilize their own State’s VAMC’s with no specialized treatment, right in line next to G.I. Joe…again, as a form of accountability.

      In my “dream utopian VA”, it would be cleaned-up before Congress returned from Summer Fund Raising Vacations. Because they just happen to be self-absorbed types and rather get a smile and handshake in line waiting for the witch doctor than evil grimaces…again, to even the playing field.

      My utopia does not exist however. That’s why we are fighting to make the VA the best VA for not only existing Vets but those generations to come.

      What I would do as a very wise uncle of mine did that happens to be a lifelong USAF fighter pilot: He forewarned me about the VA back in 1980 when looking to enlist out of high school…he was an officer then and now come 36 years and it’s still a cesspool of a federal mess! Yep, I would warn a kid about the VA but I would NOT discourage anyone from joining the armed forces.

      Sorry so long but it’s a passionate subject for me and if you really knew all the gory details of my own experience Active Duty for a decade and following, you would realize how open-minded I am in spite of those things. Being a lab-rat is no fun. I have been one since 1984. 🙁

      • That same wise uncle of mine gave the advice to keep a paper trail of everything, which came in rather handy in filing my own VA Disability Claim and I even won it first time around with no appeals. We need to all be that ‘wise uncle’ and let prospective members of military and current members know if dealing with the VA eventually, indisputable evidence from a paper trail will never having you scratching your head later wishing you had documented that.

  8. I suspect they are not being prioritized as highly as they should be because all available staff are working on processing claims to bring down the backlog. There are only so many people and so many hours in a day, Ben. You’d think that they could hire more people with the amount of money they are paying out and then having to waive because of financial hardship.

    • So, this must be the same exact system the VA uses that the VA had no idea so many Vets had died while waiting on the ‘wait list’, which was brought to light of day this year as well?

      No excuse for ignorance. UNLESS a given entity hires a preponderance of ignorant people….the VA is still at fault. It’s called multitasking and I guarantee employees in private sector are doing a hell of a lot more work in their work time than those supposedly too heavily tasked to do their given jobs at the VA….that Performance Bonus will not be so large if they are TOO efficient, right?

      Sorry if I sound callous but Vets are sick and tired of lackadaisical excuses for being lackadaisical.

      • The VA Can move with lightning speed when processing a claim against a veterans insurance.
        Besides, how long does it take to rubber stamp a service connection claim as denied?
        One would think rather than those poor, overworked claims adjudicator working their little rat claws to the bone on complex medical claims, they would take an easy day or two to process these other adjustment claims.
        Unless they believe prison officials lie all the time like the VA believes veterans do.

  9. Waivers are very hard to obtain. My husband wasn’t in prison. They over payed him and even sent a copy of a information. I found the original paperwork showing they knew and where old of new info. I sent it to them certified. They said no to bad. I don’t get it. We pay foreign countries to be there, we rebuild. They then let terrorist take over. These countries fail on purpose. Does the US make them pay it back. Hell no. But over pay a vet then cause that family to be in financial crisis and no hardship waiver. We need to take care of our vets first…

  10. My original effective date of my claim was 12/2014. Somehow, my original VA Form 9 cannot be located. With no Form 9, my original claim and appeal have been closed. If I refile my claim and appeal, my effective date will be time now. This will result in the loss of 4 plus years of compensation payments, which would be a nice sum of money that I could very well use. The VA is quick to act to utilize the system to keep from approving claims and negate paying compensation which is a drop in the bucket compared to all the monies they waste because of a lack of fiscal responsibility and failure to exercise accountability

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