Veterans in Pennsylvania are waiting longer than they have ever done before in order to receive their benefits. Meanwhile, VA claims-processing workers receive bonuses for avoiding those claims that require extra processing time. It appears that a veterans' benefits lawyer will have his or her work cut out for them.
While disabled veterans wait long months and years to receive much-needed and well-deserved benefits, VA claims-processing workers were paid bonuses totaling amounts in the millions for what was considered "excellent" work. In effect, the incentive of bonuses was an encouragement to bypass those claims that required additional work to process according to a recent news investigation. During 2011, when backlogged claims reached 155 percent, VA claims-processing workers were paid a total amount of more than $5,000,000 in bonuses.
The incentive to meet or exceed performance standards (or hang on to their jobs) caused workers to put to the side those claims that required the extra work as those would be the ones that would back them up. Those "put to the side" claims are the ones that now comprise a good deal of the current backlog of pending claims that have gone over 125 days. The system is also pushing quantity before quality -- more than half of the appealed claims reviewed by one appeals board were found to be either incomplete or had contained incorrect information.
At one point late last year, veterans who had appeals that were pending for two years or more totaled approximately 14,000. One former claims-processing worker went as far as saying that the VA had virtually constructed a wall between workers and veterans that separated them from each other. A veterans' benefits lawyer will be in great demand as many Pennsylvania vets struggle to overcome the hurdles placed before them. Many of those vets will find that teaming up with those who know best how to circumvent the system and bypass the backlog will enable them to obtain their benefits in a much more reasonable amount of time.
Source: The Washington Post, Despite backlogs, VA disability claims processors get bonuses, Mary Shinn, Daniel Moore and Steven Rich, Aug. 25, 2013