Veterans' Compensation:

Medical Reports Adequate for Initial Disability Ratings but Need to Be More Timely

HRD-90-115: Published: May 30, 1990. Publicly Released: May 30, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO determined: (1) whether Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regional offices were requesting medical examinations for impaired veterans who applied for disability benefits; and (2) whether medical reports from VA medical centers were adequate, complete, and timely for eligibility determinations.

GAO found that: (1) VA regional offices requested examinations that addressed medical impairments claimed by veterans in their initial applications for disability compensation; (2) the medical reports included diagnoses that were adequately supported by clinical tests; (3) the reports provided sufficient medical evidence to VA medical and nonmedical rating specialists to make a judgment about the extent of a veteran's disability; (4) VA established guidelines for rating specialists concerning what information in medical reports should include; (5) many cases that GAO studied did not meet VA timeliness standards; (6) VA has instituted new timeliness criteria for each step in the process; and (7) VA has been field-testing a new information exchange system that should eliminate most of the delays involved in mailing documents between regional offices and medical facilities.

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