Los Angeles VA shredded veterans’ claims instead of processing them, IG report says

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– The Washington Times – Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Los Angeles VA shredded veterans’ benefit claims without ever processing them, the department’s inspector general said in a report Tuesday that suggests the problems exposed last year continue.

Investigators auditing the Los Angeles office of the Department of Veterans Affairs found eight benefits claims that were designated for shredding, instead of being processed and entered into the agency’s electronic system.

Two homeless veterans submitted disability compensation claims, which were marked for shredding.

Another veteran had a letter sent to the L.A. office by his VA doctor, claiming that he was unemployable because of his service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder. This was also designated for shredding, and had it actually been destroyed, the office would not have the additional evidence necessary to make a claim decision for this patient, the investigators concluded.

Investigators also said it’s impossible to know how many veterans had their claims shredded before the problem was spotted.

“The shredding of these documents would have prevented the documents from becoming part of the veterans’ permanent record and potentially affect veterans’ benefits,” the auditors said. “We could not determine whether the VARO staff improperly shredded documents prior to our review. This is because the VARO destroyed documents prior to our arrival, as part of the VARO’s normal records disposition process.”

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