Washington Examiner: Veterans Affairs disability case file audits show high error rates

Mistakes can doom veterans to years of appeals as they fight to correct improper denials that prevent them from receiving monthly stipends federal laws entitles them to due to service-connected health conditions.
By Mark Flatten, Washington Examiner Published: February 12, 2013
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Editor's Note: This is the second part in a series of stories from the Washington Examiner about benefit claims backlog at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Accuracy reports have been manipulated by the Department of Veterans Affairs to make it appear employees make fewer mistakes on claims for disability payments than they actually do, the Washington Examiner has found.

Audits of individual case files by the agency's inspector general consistently show error rates on disability claims much higher than those claimed in official reports.

The IG also found the agency's accuracy gauge is easily manipulated by VA officials seeking to improve their apparent performance.

The pressure to process benefits claims cases as quickly as possible creates an incentive to “cook the books,” according to veterans advocates and the VA's own internal investigators.

“VA is notorious for flat-out cooking the books,” said Paul Sullivan, a former VA official who is now a board member of the group Veterans for Common Sense. “The error rate is under-reported and it's intentional. VA is trying to hide VA's blunders and mistakes.”

See the Washington Examiner's complete story at www.washingtonexaminer.com