Veterans' Benefits: Quality Assurance for Disability Claims and Appeals Processing Can Be Further Improved

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "For fiscal year 2002, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will pay $25 billion in cash disability benefits to 3.3 million disabled veterans and their families. Veterans who are dissatisfied with VA's 57 regional offices' decisions may file appeals with VA's Board of Veteran's Appeals. In about half of such appeals, the Board has either granted the benefits denied or returned the cases to regional offices for rework. Additionally, VA reported an accuracy rate of less than 70 percent for regional office disability decisions when it ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. August 16, 2002.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "For fiscal year 2002, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will pay $25 billion in cash disability benefits to 3.3 million disabled veterans and their families. Veterans who are dissatisfied with VA's 57 regional offices' decisions may file appeals with VA's Board of Veteran's Appeals. In about half of such appeals, the Board has either granted the benefits denied or returned the cases to regional offices for rework. Additionally, VA reported an accuracy rate of less than 70 percent for regional office disability decisions when it tested a new quality assurance program in fiscal year 1998. When the Board itself denies benefits, veterans may appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. In over half of these appeals, the Court has either granted the benefits denied by the Board or returned the decisions to the Board for rework. In fiscal year 1998, the Board of Veteran's Appeals established a quantitative evaluation program to score its decisionmaking accuracy and collect data to improve decisionmaking. The accuracy measure used by the Board understates its true accuracy rate because the calculations include certain deficiencies, such as errors in a written decision's format, which would not result in either a reversal or a remand by the Court. VA does not assess the consistency of decisionmaking across the regional office and Board disability adjudicators even though VA acknowledges that in many cases adjudicators of equal competence could review the same evidence but render different decisions. Although available evidence indicates that variations in decisionmaking occur across all levels of VA adjudication, VA does not conduct systematic assessments to determine the degree of variations that occurs for specific impairments and to provide a basis for determining ways to reduce such variations."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • August 16, 2002

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Veterans' Benefits: Quality Assurance for Disability Claims and Appeals Processing Can Be Further Improved, report, August 16, 2002; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc294636/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.