WASHINGTON – National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) executive director and co-founder Bart Stichman was dismayed at the findings of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report on disability exams conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the need for performance analysis and training oversight for Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) contractors.
“This report confirms our worst fears that the VBA examiners are ill-prepared to properly assess a veterans’ disability. A bad assessment can have catastrophic consequences on a veteran and his or her family,” said Stichman. “Veterans served nobly and expect their government to take care of them when they have suffered injuries or illnesses due to their military service. This is no way to treat our veterans.”
“Moreover, the recommendations put forth by the GAO do nothing to help our veterans right now who must deal with the negative consequences of the bad exams already conducted by these contractors, who are getting paid $6.9 billion dollars for their “unsatisfactory performance.” According to the VBA, only one contractor met its target of 92 percent of exam reports with no errors. The vast majority of contractor scores were classified by VBA as “unsatisfactory performance” with quality ratings as low as 62 percent.
“The efficacy of the exams and the training of the examiners has to be a priority. Timeliness hardly matters if the exams are poorly conducted,” said Stichman.
“The outcomes of these exams have life-changing impact on our veterans, especially those who may be suffering from post-traumatic stress. All the veterans who have been denied disability compensation based on these faulty exams since these contractors were employed should have their claims reopened immediately and a new exam provided by VA in house.”
“These contractors are a prime example of the waste in the system that should be eliminated and the money spent directly on our veterans. I applaud Congress for holding a hearing to examine the report findings and hope more can be done to help our veterans be treated fairly.”
The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is an independent, nonprofit veterans service organization that has served active duty military personnel and veterans since 1980. NVLSP strives to ensure that our nation honors its commitment to its 22 million veterans and active duty personnel by ensuring they have the benefits they have earned through their service to our country. NVLSP has represented veterans in lawsuits that compelled enforcement of the law where the VA or other military services denied benefits to veterans in violation of the law. NVLSP’s success in these lawsuits has resulted in more than $5.2 billion dollars being awarded in disability, death and medical benefits to hundreds of thousands of veterans and their survivors. NVLSP offers training for attorneys and other advocates; connects veterans and active duty personnel with pro bono legal help when seeking disability benefits; publishes the nation’s definitive guide on veteran benefits; and represents and litigates for veterans and their families before the VA, military discharge review agencies and federal courts. For more information go to www.nvlsp.org.