Are Our Veterans Strangled by VA Red Tape?

Plenty of Examples Portraying VA’s Perilous Paper Problem.

Ah, VA and red tape. These two go together like strawberries and cream and just about everyone knows it.

Even comedian Jon Stewart railed against it. The American Action Forum (AAF) has taken it one step further and shined a bright light on VA’s chronic bureaucratic paperwork nightmare.

The AAF, an independent non-profit organization which seeks to promote innovative solutions-based policies intended to help government better serve its citizens, took an exhaustive look at more than 300 regulatory requirements facing Veterans as they make their way through endless spools of red tape.

The Daily Beast  reporter Jamie Reno noted earlier this year the department’s costly transition from paper to electronic claims processing has provided more than its share of bugs and setbacks.

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) noted the number of Veterans waiting more than a year to receive benefits jumped from 11,000 in 2009 to 245,000 by December 2012 – an inexcusable increase of 2,000 percent!

Sifting through the 319 information collections, AAF constructed a path that a Veteran might face after leaving active duty. A disabled Veteran seeking benefits could encounter up to 49 different forms, more than four hours of paperwork, and an aggregate cost of $125, assuming $31 per hour  of compliance time.

AAF concludes that navigating 18 agencies and more than 600 forms has produced “absurd results and unnecessary delays.” and warns that if Congress cannot fashion a legislative remedy to the red tape nightmare, “Veterans will have to rely on the same system that has failed them repeatedly in the past”.

VA now assures Veterans that the new computerized Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) will work as advertised. As of July 8, 2013 there were 523,000 Veterans with claims pending more than 125 days. VA insists that there will be no pending claims older than 125 days by the year 2015 as a result of computer modernization and an end to VA’s perilous paper problem.

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