Arkansas VA Office Plagued With Employees Who Manipulate Claims
It looks like the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) still has a problem with tampering. In Little Rock, Ark., the VA’s top watchdog has dug up evidence that employees manipulated the dates of unadjusted claims to make it appear as though the backlog was being eliminated at a much quicker pace.
The inspector general first launched the investigation when it received an anonymous allegation claiming that staff were misapplying guidance to tamper with the dates of claims. After a thorough investigation, inspectors discovered that out of 48 cases reviewed, staff had adjusted the dates on all 48 of the claims, an unusually high level of tampering, even for the VA.
In one particularly egregious example, a claim that was 16-years-old was made to look like it was only 6-days-old.
“Based on our review, we concluded that adjusting the dates of aging claims to more recent ‘discovered’ dates resulted in a lack of assurance that staff would expedite processing of the discovered unadjudicated claims, further delaying benefits decisions for veterans. Adjusting the dates of claims also misrepresented the time required for VARO staff to process the claims,” the inspector general noted.
Staff claimed that they were only following guidance established by the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) Fast Letter (FL) 13-10 policy on dating claims, but even in the first place, the Fast Letter guidance contravened VBA standard policy which states that the date on which the claim is received is equivalent to the date of the claim itself. Although FL 13-10 was officially terminated on June 27, 2014, other guidance from the VBA continues to allow VA employees to readjust claim dates.
Still, the Little Rock regional office didn’t go as far as the Oakland, Calif., office. Just last week, the inspector general revealed that Oakland employees simply shoved countless thousands of disability claims into cabinets and forgot about them, a practice which began as far back as the mid-1990s. (RELATED: VA Figures Out Ingenious Way To Process Claims: Stuff Them All In A Cabinet And Forget)
During a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin ripped into the Obama administration and the VA for treating illegal immigrants better than veterans.
“[I]nstead of illegal aliens cutting in line and being rewarded with a handout of U.S. benefits, we demand that the vets are first in line,” Palin said.
For Palin, the only reason we didn’t hear about the VA scandals, which in some cases have gone on for decades, is because veterans are trained not to complain, Breitbart reports.
But even with complaints, Palin argued, it’s unlikely that the VA will reform itself and stop lying to Congress and placing veterans on secret waiting lists without significant external pressure.
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