Over the past year, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has often been in the news for the wrong reasons, from former Secretary Eric Shinseki losing his job over the VA Medical Center waiting-list scandal that resulted in veteran deaths to new Secretary Robert A. McDonald lying – to a homeless veteran, no less – about his military service. Sometimes, especially during the frustrating and delay-filled claims process, it looks as if the Veterans’ Benefits Administration, specifically, is literally ignoring its job, which primarily is to provide help to veterans who are disabled due to military service.
With recent news coming out of the Oakland VA Regional Office, it appears that in this case looks are not deceiving.
According to a recent report from the VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIC), a review of the Oakland VA Regional Office found, in a filing cabinet, over 13,000 informal disability claims, many of which had been totally ignored by VA. The report alleges that some of the claims had been ignored since being received as long ago as the mid 1990’s.
As the report states, “[Oakland VA Regional Office] staff had not properly controlled these claims documents, which were accidently found in a filing cabinet during a construction project. Of these 13,184 informal claims, 2,155 required review or action by VARO staff. VARO management told us they had created a ‘special project team’ to process the 2,155 informal claims and thought the task had been completed. We could not confirm the existence of a VARO special project team, their names, or their qualifications. None of the work, claimed to have been accomplished by the VARO staff or management, could be confirmed – much less the accuracy of that work – due to poor record-keeping practices.”
As of the report’s publishing, last month, the Office of Inspector General had “recommended” that the director of the Oakland VA Regional Office “complete and certify the review” of any of the 13,184 claims that had yet to be adjudicated.
Problems such as this, especially at an agency tasked with supporting our veterans, are inexcusable. If you are experiencing frustration with the VA claims process or simply have a question about your claim, please call the office of Sean Kendall today at 877-629-1712.