commander of the nation’s largest veterans organization warned lawmakers
Tuesday that the Department of Veterans Affairs’ progress in reducing the size
of the disability claims backlog is threatened by the number of mistakes the
department makes on those claims.
reported recently that it has cut the inventory of claims 20 percent from its
peak of nearly 900,000 veterans since March.
optimistic that recent efforts to move beyond an outdated, paper-based
processing system will help [eliminate] the backlog of undecided claims, but
unfortunately, accuracy remains a serious problem,” American Legion national
commander Daniel Dellinger told a joint hearing before the House and Senate
veterans’ affairs committees.
reports place the accuracy rate in the mid-80s, Dellinger noted. But
the Legion’s action review teams working with VA regional offices are
finding error rates as high as two-thirds, he added.
unacceptable,” Dellinger said. “And again, we all share in the obligation to
correct the problem.”
officials told the lawmakers that the VA work-credit system that rewards
claims processors for the number of claims they complete causes some of the
employee may not do a thorough job of researching a claim “to make that quota,”
said Verna Jones, the Legion’s director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation.
the work-credit system is counter-productive,” she testified. The Legion
recommended overhauling the system.
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee,
said he shared “guarded optimism” about the VA’s performance.
we’ve seen a steady decline in the backlog, clearly there is much, much more
work to do,” Sanders said. “Veterans deserve not only timely but accurate
Reporter Steve Vogel
(note: this reporter’s earlier articles detailed the 75%
error rate in claims forwarded to the Board of Veterans Appeals, and the three
to five year wait for adjudication at that tribunal. Thus presently-denied claims, which took between two and three years to be denied, face another unconscionable delay before the veteran can finally receive necessary medical care and compensation!)