VA Workers Bag Millions in Bonuses Despite Record Disability Backlog
A review conducted by News21 found that in 2012 nearly three out of four appealed veteran claims were incorrectly processed.
Office of Personnel Management records reveal that many of the worst performing and backlogged offices scored the highest bonuses, reports the Washington Post:
The Baltimore office, which has the longest wait times in the country, gave bonuses averaging $1,100 each to 40 percent of its workforce. The Oakland, Calif., office, which shut its doors to retrain underperforming employees, awarded nine out of every 10 workers a total of about $33,000--almost enough to pay the standard year's benefit to a veteran who is 100 percent disabled.
In Sioux Falls, S.D., claims workers processed claims four times as fast as those in Oakland and Baltimore but less than one in 10 there received extra pay last year.
Veterans say the massive delays and VA backlogs have added economic pain to their injuries.
"I couldn't get a dime for claims," says veteran Stephen Leon, who served two tours in Afghanistan and received the Army Commendation Medal for valor. "I couldn't get in touch with anyone, and the ones I cold get in touch with, they didn't want to help me anyway."
An independent advocate finally helped Leon navigate and win his claim. But with backlogs exploding by 155% in 2011, many veterans are not so fortunate, particularly those with more complex claims.
In 2012, Veterans Affairs issued $44.3 billion in disability benefits. By comparison, America will spend nearly twice that amount in 2013 on food stamps.
The Daily Beast reports that four years ago wait times for funeral subsidies were two months; under Obama, it has ballooned to 207 days.