A new IG report shows nearly half of disability claims for veterans seeking benefits for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) were botched resulting in both underpayment and overpayment of veterans.

The report found errors in 45 percent the disability claims reviewed that were processed by the agency’s Veterans Benefits Administration. IG indicates complexity of the claims being sought was the culprit – – not poor training or poor leadership – – at least in the summary. IG also concluded VA often failed to inform veterans of their benefits when processing these ALS claims.

IG Report Summary Into Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

According to IG:

The OIG found that VBA’s claims processing involving service-connected ALS needs improvement. About 45 percent of ALS claims completed from April through September 2017 had erroneous decisions. These errors resulted in estimated underpayments of about $750,000 and overpayments of about $649,000 to a total of 230 veterans. These errors were due to the complexity of these claims. ALS claims can involve a wide range of medical complications, evaluations, and special monthly compensation (SMC) levels, and most rating personnel do not decide ALS claims often enough to maintain proficiency.

Also, the OIG determined that VBA staff generally did not tell veterans about additional SMC benefits that may be available. VA is usually required to notify veterans of the conditions that must be met to grant a higher level of compensation. However, VBA’s Compensation Service staff stated they are not required to do so for SMC benefits.

Without information about SMC benefits, veterans with ALS may not know about benefits available to them, or they may not be sure they are receiving the correct SMC benefits. Also, they may not know when to file a claim for an increase in compensation.

The OIG recommended that VBA implement a plan to improve the decisions and additional reviews of claims involving service-connected ALS, and monitor ALS claims to ensure staff demonstrate proficiency. The OIG also recommended that VBA implement a plan to provide notice regarding additional SMC benefits that may be available to veterans with service-connected ALS.

You can learn more about the botched disability compensation findings by downloading the entire report here.

Poor Leadership?

Essentially, it looks like poor leadership resulted in many veterans being improperly paid. How long has VA known about this problem leading up to the IG investigation?

Hopefully, VA does the right thing by not requiring repayment from all the veterans who were overpaid due to VA’s mistake.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Veterans who read this email their Senators or Representative contract the Veteran Affairs Committee passed a new Benefits Law that will improve Veterans Health Care and Spread your belief or their own and you don’t have to be a Veteran to share your belief…..Semper Fi don’t Surrender.

  2. I would not get too hopeful on the VA doing the right thing. First, the right thing for them, is different than the right thing for us. And second the VA never does anything beneficial for us, or at least for me, unless forced to do so, through legal means. Poor Leadership, yeah, but the system is broken too.

    • norm j ruple why can’t you share your belief how improve Veterans Health Care belief how improve Veterans Health Care so i email my Senators or Representative contract the Veteran Affairs Committee.

  3. I knocking on the door are you home please tell me what how do believe how improve Veterans Health Care and I e-mail my Senators or Representatives contract Veteran Affairs Committee….Semper Fi ..

  4. In 2015y brother in law went to Dallas va hosp for an comp & pen exam.
    The doctor told me to have him cked for als.
    If it weren’t for the doctor knowing what to see & telling us to ck him out, we would have not known. We got him cked, ft worth va clinic sent him back to Dallas where he was told patients with Al’s dont live passed 5 yrs. 2016 he died.
    Never got his increased disability.

  5. 11/24/2018

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    ALS hits all the way home over here.

    “ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease…”

    With today’s doctors they should be able to spot ALS and PLS.

    Were the Veterans examined by a Doctors?

    From the VAOIG-18-00031-05 report date 02/12/2018 and 11/20/2018: “The review team further estimated that if VBA staff continue to make errors at the rate identified in this review over a period of five [5] years, VBA would make $7.5 million in underpayments and $6.5 million in overpayments for a total of $14 million in improper payments based on payment rates in effect at the time of this review. ”

    The concern was about the money at the beginning of this report.

    During the VA Scandal this issue was not addressed, or corrected —as all the Senate and Congress watched.

    “Some examples of medical complications include impaired speech, difficulty swallowing and breathing, and weakness in the arms and legs. Staff must decide the proper evaluation for all medical complications of ALS to determine whether to assign a single 100 percent evaluation or separately evaluate each of the complications.”

    So Doctors did not do the evaluations—the VA Staff did.

    What are the qualifications of a VA Staff Member vs. a Doctor? How many VA Staff had prior employment at Lockheed’s QTCM?

    I do wonder how LARRY M. REINKEMEYER Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Evaluations really understands the problem here?

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg

  6. Let’s face it, even if VA found the disease which is almost impossible I believe, and I am not being sarcastic but even if they did, it could not have happened in service, as only easy to adjudicate claims happen in service, the rest of us are just assholes trying to get over somehow. Like all of us with Parkinson’s and Systemic sclerosis, and a long history of working with Chemicals in service. Only when we get Cancer and about to die will we get any help, until then we must make it on our own, and let the more serious back pain, foot pain, and penal pain get attention and we can just step back and shut up. VA employee’s at VBA are so smart they can be Lawyers, Doctors, and Scientist all in one day if need be. What are private physicians outside of VA says is not worth a crap. Just let VA handle it like they have lat 40 years and we all are safe and cared for. What are soldiers need is to bring back all the chemicals that now have disappeared and was so good for us all to drink and work with!

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