Errors at the Denver VA Regional Office
VA OIG Finds Errors Affecting Disability Claims
In March of 2017, the VA Office of Inspector General (“VA OIG”) reviewed the Veterans’ Affairs Regional Office (“RO”) in Denver to assess its ability to accurately process disability claims. Among the findings were significant errors in three categories: 1) Traumatic Brain Injury (“TBI”), Special Monthly Compensation (“SMC”), and ancillary benefits claims processing; 2) proposed rating reductions; and 3) information input.
Errors In TBI, SMC, and Ancillary Benefits Claims Processing
The VA OIG reviewed a total of 60 claims processed by the RO in Lakewood, a suburb of Denver.
Of those 60 claims, 30 were related to TBI. The VA OIG found that, of those 30, the RO made errors on two claims. In one instance, the RO denied service connection for TBI without taking the required step of obtaining the veteran’s service treatment records and, in another, the RO severed a veteran’s service connection for TBI without reason.
The VA OIG also reviewed 30 claims related to SMC or ancillary benefits, finding that the RO made errors on four of the 30 claims. One error was so significant that it resulted in a veteran being under paid for a period of eight months, resulting in a loss of approximately $17,400.
Errors Related to Proposed Rating Reductions
The VA OIG found that 14 of the 30 benefits reduction cases reviewed were incorrectly processed or delayed.
Errors Relating to Information Input
The VA OIG found significant errors relating to information input. Of the 30 cases reviewed, 19 were entered into the electronic claims system incorrectly, leading to delays in processing. The VA OIG finds that these errors were due to “employee inexperience and ineffective operational oversight.”
Appealing an RO Decision
Unfortunately, errors at the RO level are not uncommon and are by no means limited to the Denver office. Luckily, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has an appeals process that allows veterans to have their claims reassessed, first by a local Decision Review Officer, then by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and finally by the Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims. While the appeals process can be complicated and maddeningly slow, having an experienced attorney on your side can bring some ease to the process and greatly increase your chance of getting the benefits you deserve.
Whether you are considering applying for benefits for the first time, feeling disappointed with your RO decision and deciding whether to file an appeal, or you are already in the VA’s backlog of appeals, there are steps we can take to get you the benefits you deserve in a timely and efficient manner. Call the offices of Attorney Sean Kendall today at (877) 629-1712.