By Leo Shane III - Blue Water Vietnam veterans are getting their disability benefits paid out by the Department of Veterans Affairs, but it might not be exactly how much they deserve, according to a new watchdog report.
The VA Inspector General’s Office found that while department staff have done a good job at getting benefits flowing to newly eligible veterans covered by the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act two years ago, nearly half of the claims decisions investigators reviewed from 2020 were “inaccurate.”
The mistakes total an estimated $37 million: about $12 million in underpayments based on veterans eligibility and $25 million more in excess payments to individuals.
“Employees did not always know how to correctly process these claims, particularly determining accurate retroactive effective dates for evaluations,” investigators stated in the IG report, released late last week. “[Benefits officials] should increase oversight to help ensure employees processing these claims clearly understand how to correctly evaluate and decide them.”
Benefits for ‘blue water’ veterans finalized after years-long fight
The move ends a years-long fight to get faster disability benefits for up to 90,000 Navy veterans who served in Vietnam.
In a statement, VA officials told the Inspector General that they have improved training in recent months and put in place “special focused quality reviews” to address the problem.