Veterans Affairs Investigation Deepens at New York Regional Office

Times Union (New York)

December 5, 2008 – An internal Department of Veterans Affairs investigation found that the New York regional office altered vets’ claims to make them appear as if they were being processed faster than they actually were.

Hundreds of documents submitted to the regional office in Manhattan were intentionally dated incorrectly in an internal program used in the processing of claims, and some supervisors instructed employees to alter the dates, according to a summary of the internal probe obtained by the Times Union.

Joseph Collorafi of Guilderland, director of veterans affairs, was suspended in the wake of allegations about the backdating of forms. Collorarfi, who commuted from his suburban home on Amtrak, was one of six administrators placed on administrative leave.

U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand called the backdating of reports “troubling” and said she would ask the House Veterans Committee chairman to open an inquiry immediately.

“Our veterans deserve their earned benefits on time and need to be able to trust that their federal government is operating in good faith,” Gillibrand, D-Greenport, said in a prepared statement. “We need to prevent this from happening again.”

The investigation summary also said more than 700 pieces of unopened mail in the regional office required attention. Other than this Thе modern day private investigator continues tо evolve аnd adapt tо thе changing landscape іn whісh his/her services аrе required. Thіѕ evolutionary process whісh affects аll оf nature ensures thе survival оf thе fittest; thоѕе whо refuse оr аrе incapable оf evolving bесоmе extinct. Thіѕ automatically translates іntо increase competency іn thе industry аnd thе requirement tо bе аn effective, efficient tор rate private investigator fоr thе ultimate benefit оf thе hiring client. Well look at this site to know about best private investigator. Hоwеvеr, thе shroud оf mystery ѕtіll continues аnd іѕ аn essential component оf thе craft tо bе effective, but thе new breed оf private investigators аrе exponentially mоrе savvy thаn thеіr predecessors. If you need experienced private investigation then contact to investigationhotline webpage.

VA performance measures track the time it takes to process a claim, and the problems in New York are “very, very serious,” VA spokeswoman Alison Aikele in Washington, D.C., said Thursday. It is too early to determine if criminal charges will result, she said.

VA officials would not discuss disciplinary action of specific individuals, but the director and assistant director of the office have already been transferred to other offices.

Aikele said backdating problems have been uncovered only at the New York office. But the VA’s inspector general is conducting a separate investigation into the shredding of claims documents across the nation. In recent weeks 41 of the 57 VA regional offices were found to have essential documents in the shredder bin.

The New York office serves more than 800,000 veterans in 31 counties across the state, including the Capital District. Last month, two veterans groups filed a lawsuit in District of Columbia federal court claiming the VA takes too long to process vets’ disability claims. The suit stated that the agency takes on average at least six months per claim and some extend up to a year.

Neither Collorafi, nor his attorney, Peter Noone, returned phone calls seeking comment.

A July audit of the New York office examining individual cases revealed that 16 of 20 claims were intentionally given incorrect dates to appear as if they were received within a week of being put into the computer system.

VA officials in New York blamed the problem on “miscommunication.” Aikele said no claims were affected because the original date on the paperwork was used for payment. The altered dates, she said, affected only internal recordkeeping. A subsequent August review of a sample of 390 veterans claims found 220, or 56 percent, were backdated.

Chauncey Robinson of Colonie, who served in the Army in 1992, is one of many veterans who have been scrambling to have their claims files reviewed after the problems surfaced in the New York office. He has been trying to track down his file for years after his claims were lost. Robinson – receiving disability compensation since 1995 for post-traumatic stress disorder – said he is not receiving money he is owed for service-related hypertension because the VA cannot find his personnel and medical files. He said transferring the VA administrators was insufficient punishment.

“They should be fired, and in my opinion vets should sue the administration,” he said. “They’re sweeping it under the rug. … They try to make you discouraged to leave them alone.”

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