House hears evidence VA cooked books on claims backlog

Stars & Stripes, by Travis J. Tritten:WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs overstated progress in reducing its massive benefits backlog by improperly scrubbing thousands of the oldest veteran claims from estimates, the department inspector general said Monday.

The VA claimed last year it cut the number of disability and pension claims languishing for more than two years to just 1,258, but in reality the department  wrote off more than 7,800 cases without making final decisions on granting benefits, the IG found.

The VA has struggled publicly for years with its benefits backlog, but the manipulation that was disclosed Monday by investigators and heard before the House Veterans Affairs’ Committee suggests new depths of dysfunction and wrongdoing in the Veterans Benefits Administration, which accounts for half of the VA’s total responsibilities.

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