A new investigative report by NextGov’s Bob Brewin (“Hundreds of thousands of VA disability claims not processed”) shows that at least 228,000 veterans’ claims have been dropped by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) because they weren’t completed in time.
The NextGov article details the challenges with the VA’s new online claims system, where claims for service-conected disability are easily initiated but difficult to complete, including the near impossibility of uploading voluminous scans of medical records required to complete the claim.
In all, only 140,000 of the 445,000 claims submitted through the new online system were completed by veterans, leaving roughly 300,000 incomplete — more than two-thirds all of those submitted.
VFW National Veterans Service’s second-in-command told NextGov, the new VA system “was not ‘well thought-out’ when fielded and ‘the whole system was not ready for prime time’.”
By contrast to VFW’s reality check, VA Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey is quoted in the article as touting the new system when it was released in April 2013. “Veterans can now file their claims online through eBenefits like they might do their taxes online,” Hickey is quoted as saying.
Hickey has been in the news a lot in the last year, including in an April 2014 Military Times expose where she was caught far outside her benefits lane meddling in medical research matters and trying to quash Gulf War veterans’ disability claims. In a May 2014 Military Times expose, these same claims were revealed to have been denied by VA at an 80% rate — four out of every five. Then in June 2014, she was outed in a Bergmann & Moore column as trying to block any new presumptive conditions for VA disability claims (“That will kill us!“, Hickey testified).
What’s not clear is whether this broken online claims system was another intentional effort by Hickey to block veterans’ new claims, as is the case with blocking Gulf War Ilness claims any any new presumptives.
What is clear, however, is that two out of every three veterans who began their VA claims through Allison Hickey’s much touted new online system were unable to complete them and are still waiting.
This time, however, they’re not waiting in yet another excessively long VA line, they’re waiting outside the system and when they’re ready to try again, they’ll have to start from scratch with a new date of claim that will save the VA millions of dollars in back compensation costs.
Because an approved VA claim is the gateway to VA healthcare for a service-incurred condition, this will save the VA countless more budget dollars in the VA’s healthcare arm where Allison Hickey has already shown herself more than willing to inappropriately meddle.
Allison Hickey must be simply delighted to have found yet one more way to deny veterans the help they need so she can meet the overly politicized goals of staying within budget and reducing the VA’s claims backlog.
Read the full NextGov article on VA’s latest veterans’ disability claims foul play here: