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More Problems at the VA: This Time in Seattle

Reports of operational problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs just keep coming. Recently, veterans on the West Coast were incorrectly informed that they would lose their entitlement to individual unemployability benefits. The VA received a report that 1,000 pieces of unread mail were being stored in a bucket in the Seattle office. The unread mail allegedly contained the forms that vets were supposed to return to retain their eligibility for individual unemployability benefits. No one looked at the forms, and veterans then had their benefits reduced or cut entirely.

Some veterans with service-connected disabilities receive individual unemployability benefits because their disabilities leave them unable to work.

The Inspector General's office frequently publishes reports about issues at VA hospitals and other service centers. The report that identified the problem in Seattle also contained information about other offices that included:

  • Baltimore, where a supervisor stockpiled documents, including many with personal data
  • Oakland, California, where the staff neglected to process thousands of claims

In addition, the report included information about employees at multiple offices where internal records were manipulated to hide the fact that claims were not processed.

The Seattle office accepted the findings of the report, and hired more employees to catch up with requests. The full story appeared recently in the Seattle Times.

Another problem at the Seattle VA was recently uncovered by an investigation conducted by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. A whistleblower reported that a manager was falsifying records after she received a poor performance evaluation because she did not meet targets for number of veterans counselled. He also reported that a subordinate did not respond to hundreds of patient requests for counselling services.

The whistleblower quit after filing his complaint because he felt ostracized,according the article. The whistleblower, a veteran of the Iraq war, had his security clearance reduced and believed that fellow-employees were ostracizing him. The information about this VA employee was reported along with other examples of the VA's poor treatment of whistleblowers. The report was commissioned after the employees in the Phoenix VA office retaliated against a whistleblower who reported that the VA was hiding information about delays in scheduling patients.

Whether you are a veteran in Seattle or elsewhere, obtaining needed VA benefits, including VA disability benefits, presents many challenges. If you are veteran anywhere in the United States and are having trouble obtaining disability benefits, talk to the VA-accredited claims agents at The Rep for Vets ®. Tell them your story and learn how they can help.

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