Military Advantage

Regional Office Roundup: The Facts

Veterans who filed disability claims through Chicago, New Orleans or Reno need to listen up. There are systemic errors in the majority of TBI and Temporary 100% Disability claims that could be costing you thousands of dollars every year.

I’ve been following the VA’s Office of Inspector General for some time. Every month, the OIG inspects the performance of Regional Office’s throughout the nation. In May 2011, the OIG reported to Congress that many RO’s still have failing marks despite some 60 years of practice reviewing disability claims. They concluded that almost 25% of all disability claims are decided based on errors. Congress does little to nothing. The Whitehouse does little to nothing.

The real purpose of the OIG inspections seems to focus on overpayments. They make no attempt to forecast the amount of money not paid out to veterans as a result of failed medical evaluations or lost records. Meanwhile, Temporary 100% Disability is the focal point of overpayments to veterans, sometimes exceeding $100,000. While this is significant, it likely dwarfs the amount of money VA would have paid out to deserving veterans if policies were correctly followed.

How this helps you. Knowing the specific issues of each RO can help veterans know if their own claims were decided erroneously.

June Regional Office Roundup

Chicago Regional Office

Overall, Chicago had errors in 20% of the claims evaluated by VA OIG.

Veterans should be cautious of any decision relating to TBI claims and Temporary 100% Disability Evaluations. Notice of Disagreements (NOD) with earlier VA decisions were also not filed in a timely manner.

Relating to TBI, 54% of the claims filed for this had errors that either could or did impact the veteran’s benefits. The general problem was incorrect determinations based on inadequate evaluations.

Over 40% of all Temporary 100% Disability claims also had errors that either could or did impact the veteran’s benefits. The big problem here was that VA staff failed to schedule follow up appointments to ensure the veterans receiving the benefits were entitled to do so

New Orleans Regional Office

Overall, New Orleans had errors in 29% of the claims evaluated by VA OIG.

Similarly, veterans with recent determinations relating to TBI and Temporary 100% ratings should be cautious about the rating they received. There could be errors. Do the research to see if you were rated lower than you thought. Most notably, 80% of all Temporary 100% claims had errors that either affected or had the potential to affect the veteran’s benefits.

Reno Regional Office

Overall, Regional Office staff incorrectly processed 24% of the claims evaluated by VA OIG.

Just like the other two, TBI claims and Temporary 100% Disability claims had the most errors. The TBI Claims evaluated had errors 80% of the time. Regarding the Temporary 100% claims, 60% also had errors.

June Roundup Summary

All three RO’s had problems with the above. They also had the same problems within the mailroom regarding how they file mail received for veterans’ claims. Many veterans had service medical records just lying around. This caused claims to be delayed by many months in most instances.

If you've had problems with these Regional Offices or others, DisabledVeterans.ORGis conducting a survey called “Rate ‘Em.” This survey is an attempt to use market forces to hold the VA more accountable in how they treat veterans. But, that can’t be done without your voice, so check it out.

 

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