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Rao Bulletin Update, 01 January, 2006

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Guest Jim S.

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Guest Jim S.

:D If you think the information you get from the phone clerk at your local VARO, is incorrect, your more likely than not, correct. If you think Veterans are stretching the truth in the error in claims by the VA, think again. The following is a ROA Bulletin update:

VA CLAIM ERROR RATE: Veterans’ organizations are decrying the fact

that at the Department of Veterans Affairs the error rate on disability

claims remains high even as the backlog of claims continues to grow. The

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee was told 7 DEC that about 15% of

initial benefits decisions on claims from veterans and survivors include

errors, , while the backlog of claims has increased to 346,000, almost 8%

higher than last year. The Government Accountability Office reported

the average time to process a claim is 120 days, and processing an

appeal takes an average of 622 days. VA’s deputy undersecretary for benefits

testified the workload has increased every year since 2000, with

788,298 claims filed in fiscal 2005, a 36% increase over that span, and it is

expected that these increases will continue over the next five years.

Given the current staffing levels of the Veterans Benefits

Administration (VBA), which handles claims, the error rate suggests that every

VA decision-maker makes a significant error approximately every other

day. The VA’s growing reputation for carelessness results in appeals

even in cases that are error-free. That results in an even bigger backlog

of claims because VA must process the appeals. Veterans’ advocates say

VA is caught in a Catch-22 in which efforts to whittle the backlog of

claims by increasing the speed at which decisions are made plays a role

in the high error rate. They allege Regional office managers are

pressing ratings employees to process numbers without ensuring claims

decisions are done right the first time. VA offices that operate slower than

others, where decisions are more accurate and more favorable to veterans

generally have the greatest backlogs.

Testimony from applicants appearing before the committee indicated

experiencing years of red tape in the processing of their claims

causing them to feel manipulated by a system of bureaucratic maneuvers

undertaken to delay decisions on their claims. In many cases it is impossible

for a claimant to find out what is going on or if those assigned to the

case have the correct or most recent data or information to consider to

which would enhance a favorable decision. The full text of this story

can be found at

http://www.navytimes.com/story.php?f=0-NAVYPAPER-1402261.php [source:

Times staff writer Rick Maze 19 Dec 05]

Jim S. :)

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