Millions of veterans waiting on disability
Washington Examiner's Mark Flatten explains
- Duration 4:20
- Date Feb 24, 2013
Washington Examiner's Mark Flatten explains
Also in this playlist...
This transcript is automatically generated
Tree and now more than a million veterans have claims stock in the system that's supposed to be helping out.
Despite a pledge from the veterans affairs secretary to fix things back in 2009.
Many say things have only gotten worse an in depth investigation by mark -- the Washington examiner has uncovered some disturbing information.
Mark joins us now live thanks for coming in today thank you for having me.
You have a very extensive multi part series to look at what's going on within the veterans administration.
What did you find.
What we -- a lot of things in 2009 as you as you mentioned secretary ericsson's second -- we're gonna get rid of this backlog and they define a backlog.
As any disability claim it's been there for for over -- 125 days since he made that pledge things have gotten dramatically worse.
Four years -- -- about a 161 days to process a claim.
Now takes about 273.
The other thing we found is that there -- any number of ways that VA can sort of cooked the books.
They're so driven by the notion of -- cases quickly get them out quickly keep your numbers -- keep your stats up.
That they make a lot of mistakes.
Fixing mistakes is not a priority.
And the problem with that is if you make a mistake in the early phase of veterans claim you're essentially doing then two years in the appeals process.
Even best case scenario it takes about nine months just to get an initial decision.
If that decision's wrong it which in many cases that is you're looking at between four and five years.
To get that -- on appeal.
That's not unusual that's that's actually very common those are the averages.
You're not getting treatment you're knocking benefits during that time while you're waiting for this to take years result.
Why is there did you find out why is there such a backlog is the -- understaffed does -- not have good funding if it inefficient what's happening.
Part of it is of their own making a part of the sheer numbers in the last three years of processed -- three point one mining claims and they got but three point six million new ones coming in.
But a great number of these cases probably -- At at least 30% 20%.
Something in that range at a minimum.
Are are cases where they've made mistakes so those cases don't get resolved they just keep churning through the system the veteran a stock.
In the system as a go up and down this appeals letter veterans groups that I talk to call the hamster wheel.
Where -- you can't really get out of the system.
Once that mistake is made at the front and for whatever reason.
There there's just no easy out and just it's just very difficult to correct.
A lot of these veterans.
-- talk to one veteran not named Mike -- Vietnam vet.
-- was exposed to Agent Orange and I was got cancer could go on VA's web site are not cancer but he's got another condition that if you go on DA's website it's specifically describes it.
He's been waiting since June just to get an initial response.
And I just contacted him recently and so we lost your paperwork enact -- I mean these are veterans are men and women who have you know most of them voluntarily and some of them you know the older veterans -- -- -- draft but I mean these are folks who have served our country.
What's the response from the VA to your findings.
VA doesn't really talk to me very often they seem to have this Stonewall policy don't talk to congress very much either.
What VA has said is.
We're doing the best we can we've got all of these brand new initiatives that -- coming out with that are gonna fix the problem that the the difficulty with that.
Is when you talk to people in congress who have been there for a number of years they said look this is the same old tired things we've tried before.
And it's it hasn't worked up until now.
Obvious budget has has gone up exponentially has gone up over 50% in the last four years.
They've been adding bodies they've been adding people have been spending a lot of money on training.
Arm but the problem from what -- -- -- here both from members of congress and people and the veterans' community is you need accountability.
You need people to be held accountable for their mistakes.
If you've got an office that is not serving our veterans the people running that office need to know that they could lose their jobs if they don't.
That they don't improve things and start serving the veterans as there supposed to be doing.
Well folks can see the entire.
Multi series of pieces that you did at Washington examiner dot com.
In very interesting and a lot of food for five and hopefully at some more answers will be forthcoming because of which uncovered thank you mark thanks.