Bonus System to Clear Backlog of Veterans’ Claims Backfires for those most in Need

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Veteran sleeping in front of VA campus in Los Angeles (photo: Veterans Today)

More than 2.5 million American men and women went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and while most of them returned home, many have struggled with the physical, mental and emotional trauma from warfare with insufficient help from their government.


For serving and defending their country, these veterans are supposed to receive disability payments, job assistance, health care and treatment for what will be lifelong injuries and illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (25%), traumatic brain injuries (7%) and other physical disabilities.


But getting disability compensation has been a nightmare for hundreds of thousands of ex-soldiers. An in-depth look by News21, a Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education at Arizona State University, at the lives of the 2.6 million veterans who fought in the post-9/11 wars found the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) still has a backlog of claims belonging to more than 500,000 veterans who have waited 125 days or longer to be paid.


In an attempt to clear up this backlog, the VA instituted a “credit system” with claims workers to encourage faster processing of paperwork. More than $5.5 million in bonuses were handed out under the system, which inadvertently encouraged VA employees to process less-complex claims first.


Consequently, claims from veterans with more complicated cases languished, creating more delays and problems. This came about because complex claims took more time to make the necessary phone calls and to send follow-up letters to veterans and others—“all of which received zero points on the Veterans Benefits Administration performance evaluation for processors until December 2012, when the system was changed,” News21 reported.


Roger Moore, a local union representative for Boston claims processors, told News21 that employees set aside complicated claims to preserve their jobs. “It’s like, ‘He’s gotta wait, because I have to get my numbers or my job is in jeopardy.’”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Post 9/11 Veterans Come Home to a Nation that cannot Address their Needs (News21)

Veterans Waiting more than a Year for Benefits have Grown from 11,000 to 245,000 under Obama (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


USMC_Combat_Vet_VNam69 10 years ago
The VA backlog numbers are just a numbers game the VA plays with the Congress and the public because they are not a true picture of the claims older than 125 days. The VA dose not include appeal claims numbers in there backlog numbers. All appeal claims are over 2 years old and some decades old (the hamster wheel effect) where VA MISTAKES go back from BVA and courts appeals to VA regional office where it was at in the backlog numbers to be corrected but no longer in the backlog numbers because it is now considered an appeal claim number. So, the backlog numbers go down when the original claim is just pushed through to get the backlog numbers down and the veteran then has to file a NOD which enters into the appeals numbers. if you added the backlog numbers and appeals numbers together you would have about 250,000 more added to the backlog which would be about 750,000 not 500,000 as the VA shows now as backlog numbers. This is caused by the VA trying to get production and not quality. VA management brings the backlog on themselves because QUALITY(doing it right the first time) is not their objective PRODUCTION is the VA MANAGEMENTS OBJECTIVE. When the BVA just returns a claim for only rating the VA CAN NOT EVEN GET THAT DONE IN 125 days and most of the time the VA dose not even get the rating right so that ends up returning back to the BVA or court of appeals to get the rating corrected. MY POINT IS GET VA MANAGEMENT TO CONCENTRATE ON QUALITY MORE THAN QUANTITY. WHEN THE VA DOSE THAT THE REAL BACKLOG OF CLAIMS WILL COME DOWN IN NUMBER AND THEN THEY WILL KNOW HOW MANY EMPLOYEES THEY REALLY NEED TO HAVE TO DO THE WORK CORRECTLY. SEMPER FI

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