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Court Rules Against Veterans As Claims Crisis Deepens at Oakland VA Office

This week, a brand new internal VA audit and a news report revealed even more significant problems at VA’s beleaguered Oakland Regional Office.  In a related matter, Veterans groups who lost a key court battle against VA vowed to take their battle to the Supreme Court.

Oakland Crisis

Reporter Aaron Glantz at the Bay Citizen asked Bergmann & Moore about the claim delay and error crisis in Oakland.  “With today’s release of VA’s Inspector General’s audits for San Diego and Oakland, a reasonable person can conclude nearly all of the Veterans Benefits Administration remains deeply mired in crisis, with little chance of recovery unless President Obama and Congress act immediately,” said Paul Sullivan, the Managing Director of Public Affairs & Veteran Outreach at Bergmann & Moore.

VA’s Office the Inspector General (OIG) audit found that VA misplaced mail important for deciding Veterans’ disability claims.  After VA’s infamous shredding scandal a few years ago, VA’s promised reforms appear to be insufficient. VA’s OIG report revealed how VA made mistakes in 59% of Veterans’ traumatic brain injury (TBI) claims.  VA isn’t meeting acceptable standards for our new Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with TBI.

Overall, VA’s OIG concluded the Oakland Regional Office improperly processed 39 percent of 90 disability claims audited.  Please note VA’s OIG cautions that results do not represent the overall accuracy of disability claims processing in Oakland.  Any way we look at VA’s OIG investigation, VA’s Oakland Regional Office gets a failing grade.

Lawsuit Update

The report and news coverage about VA’s Oakland office follow in the wake of a landmark lawsuit filed in 2007 by Veterans against VA.  Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) and Veterans United for Truth (VUFT) sued the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), alleging long delays and improper denials in healthcare and disability benefits.  VA’s Oakland Regional Office in Northern California was named as a defendant in the case.  Veterans alleged VA’s systemic failures to provide prompt disability benefits and healthcare harmed our Veterans, especially Veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  For example, VA delays and mistakes are causing our Veterans with PTSD to face additional challenges such as unemployability, homelessness, and suicide.

In a stunning development on May 7, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against VCS and VUFT.  Even with more funding, new laws, and greater oversight, Congress hasn’t fixed VA.  With additional funding and staff plus new leaders, VA remains broken.  As a result of the new Appeals Court decision, the plaintiffs in the case vowed to take their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

0 Response

  1. Columbus Dunn Jr

    This is simply wrong one would think that the courts would be the solution to the problem not a part of the problem. I myself live in Mississippi had been going to the VAMC Memphis, Tenn I was assaulted twice PCP and Associate Medical Director who also solicited me for sex. To make long story short when i rebelled against this my pains were cut off, they purposely witheld the proper hypertension medication & dosage from me resulting in rupture blood vessel in my right eye to this day I continue to have problems with getting proper care & over due benefits from the V.A. can someone please help me.

  2. Mr. Kiehl,

    Thank you for your comment. It is unfortunate that the Court decided to dismiss Veterans for Common Sense’s lawsuit, but they have vowed to take it to the Supreme Court. Whether the Supreme Court hears the case, hopefully it, along with the reports of VA’s Office of Inspector General will motivate VA to start fixing the system.

  3. charlie welch

    The problem is not only in Oakland with claims not reviewed properly I am sure that it is nation wide Florida St. Petersburg Regional when inspected by the IG did not do well on their handling of claims and reviewing claims and their error rate was also high like Oaklands the IG report stated that they needed better educated Raters and employees with more knowlege in how claims should be handled. I have been waiting for over 12 years for the VA claims department to get my claim correct. Thank goodness I hired B&M in 2008 to handle my claim I have just gotten for the first time in 12 years for my claim to finally move out of the St. Petersburg Regional Office and I am now finally going to the VBA I put the request to go to the VBA back in 2007 they said it would take 563 days to be heard by the VBA now 5yrs later I am going to have B&M represent me for the VBA I do not when the VBA is going to schedule a hearing on my claim but I hope its not another 563 days I am not sure I will still be around to find out that decision. I have faith in B&M to try and expidite the VBA hearing meeting on my claim. The regional office in St. Pete just invent answers and throw out evidence with erronous statements. My Primary VA doctor has just retired after seeing me for 12 years. If it takes the VBA to hear my claim as long as it took for regional to finally let my claim advance to the VBA I probably wont be around to hear what their decision will be. So even Oakland regional is totally messed up so is St. Petersburg Regional office just as bad according to IG reports and I am sure there are many more regional offices that fail the IG inspections on claims. The VA is an out of date disfunctional cabinet and only the President and Congrees can make the VA to fix its system words from the congress are not getting through to the deaf ears of VA only action will get their attention from the President and Congress. I just hope that they can get the VA to actually change because as a Vietnam Veteran I sure hate to see that our young men and women who are just begining their veteran status and filling claims just desever better than what us Veitnam veterans have been dealing with for the last 42years. Differant Wars same problems cause War is hell and I know I am going to heave because I have spent my time in hell 1969 Dong HA Vietnam. God Bless you younger Vetrans may the VA treat your claims as the should correctly the first time and keep you out of the so called hamster wheel of VA claims. The Vetrans who gave their ultimate all we will never forget them and always keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

  4. Mr. Welch,
    Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry you’ve been waiting so long for your claim to be decided. You’re absolutely right that the crisis of long delays and high error rates are found in regional offices across the country. It’s unfortunate that this problem has such an effect on Veterans like yourself.

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