The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs held a hearing today on issues related to the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) 100 percent temporary disability rating. According to a report by the VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the 100 percent temporary disability rating is not being reevaluated in a majority of cases, which results in overpayments. The report estimated that these overpayments would cost VA $1.1 billion dollars over the next five years.
"While the VA has instituted some safeguards to promote accuracy, human errors are still a problem," said Rep. Mike Michaud (ME-02), Ranking Member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "Whether it's the claims backlog or reexaminations of disability ratings, veterans deserve to have an accurate and more efficient system in place that doesn't burden or shortchange them. But the answer is not just to make sure software is updated or a particular database is functioning properly. We need to ensure that VA staff is adequately trained, retained, and held accountable to make certain that our veterans are receiving the benefits they deserve."
"At the Reno VA Regional Office, which serves my Congressional District in Southern Nevada, the Inspector General found that over half of the temporary 100 percent disability evaluations were incorrectly processed. While a number of these cases involve overpayments, far too many of them involve veterans being underpaid," said Rep. Dina Titus (NV-01). "To correct these inaccuracies, we must guarantee that the VA has the proper management and employee accountability procedures in place so that our veterans get the benefits they've rightfully earned."
The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) will grant a veteran a temporary 100 percent disability evaluation for service-connected disabilities requiring surgery, treatment, or rehabilitation. At the end of a mandated period for rehabilitation or treatment, VA staff should review the veteran's condition to determine whether to continue the temporary evaluation. As VBA moves forward with modernizing its claims processing system, the Subcommittee will continue to provide oversight in the 113th Congress to ensure that veterans are being compensated accurately and efficiently.