Friday, November 9, 2012

Accuracy Falls by Wayside as VA Rushes to Clear Vast Backlog

VA claims are slowed by errors in as many as one in every three cases, reports Aaron Glantz of the Center for Investigative Reporting.
U.S. Navy cook Hosea Roundtree watched the 1983 shelling of Beirut from the deck of a ship, feelings of helplessness washing over him as people perished onshore. That memory haunted him, resurrected in flashbacks eight years later after a tour in the Gulf during Operation Desert Storm.
But when Roundtree’s claim for disability compensation crossed Jamie Fox’s desk at the Department of Veterans Affairs more than two decades later, it was slated for denial on the grounds that he had never seen combat. Fox, herself a Navy veteran, tried to straighten things out—and for that, she lost her job.
A lawsuit filed by the former VA disability claims representative provides a rare glimpse into what veterans’ advocates call systemic problems in how the agency handles compensation claims filed by Americans wounded physically or mentally in the line of duty.
A Center for Investigative Reporting review of the VA’s performance data reveals chronic errors—committed in up to one in three cases—and an emphasis on speed over accuracy that clogs the VA system with appeals, increasing delays for all veterans.

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