Veteranclaims’s Blog

March 22, 2011

Houston-RO Error Rate 57%, VAOIG Report 10-03770-125

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — veteranclaims @ 3:40 pm

“Overall, VARO staff did not accurately process 68 (57 percent) of the 120 disability claims reviewed.”

Full report PDF, No. 10-03770-125 at: PDF, Inspection of the VA Regional Office Houston, Texas

Report Number , 3/21/2011 | Full Report (PDF)

The Benefits Inspection Division conducts onsite inspections at VA Regional Offices (VAROs) to review disability compensation claims processing and Veterans Service Center (VSC) operations. We found Houston VARO management ensured staff generally followed Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) policy to correctly establish dates of claims in the electronic record and process incoming mail. VARO management lacked effective controls and accuracy in processing temporary 100 percent disability evaluations, and post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and herbicide exposure-related claims. Overall, VARO staff did not accurately process 68 (57 percent) of the 120 disability claims reviewed. The VARO also was not timely in recording Notices of Disagreement for appealed claims, correcting errors identified by VBA’s Systematic Technical Accuracy Review program, and completing Systematic Analyses of Operations. Processing competency determinations, managing mail in the Triage Team, and safeguarding personally identifiable information also were not fully effective.

We recommended that Houston VARO management review all remaining temporary 100 percent disability evaluations identified during our inspection to determine if reevaluations are required and take appropriate actions. Management needs to implement controls to ensure the VSC staff establishes suspense diaries for temporary 100 percent disability reevaluations. In addition, we recommended management implement controls to improve accuracy and quality review of post-traumatic stress disorder claims. Further, management needs to provide refresher training and improve quality review of traumatic brain injury and herbicide exposure-related disability claims. We also recommended VARO management strengthen controls to ensure timely establishment of Notices of Disagreement in the Veterans Appeals Control and Locator System and timely completion of Systematic Analyses of Operations. Management also needs to implement plans to ensure oversight of mail handling, accurate processing of final competency determinations, and safeguarding of personally identifiable information. The Director of the Houston VARO concurred with all recommendations. Management’s planned actions are responsive and we will follow up as required on all actions.

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