Veterans' Benefits:

VA Needs to Verify Medical Expenses Claimed by Pension Beneficiaries

HRD-91-94: Published: Jul 29, 1991. Publicly Released: Aug 29, 1991.


Joseph F. Delfico
(202) 512-7215


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO determined the: (1) amount of unreimbursed medical expenses that beneficiaries report to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for use in computing VA pension benefits; and (2) VA procedures for verifying such expenses.

GAO found that: (1) VA is unable to determine whether the claimed medical expenses are valid or not because it does not systematically verify or request proof of payment for these expenses, there is little incentive for voluntary compliance, and there is no deterrent to overreporting; (2) of the $1.6 billion in medical expenses that beneficiaries claimed, $1.25 billion were for recurring expenses and $350 million were for nonrecurring expenses; (3) of the recurring expenses, about $1.2 billion involved beneficiaries who were using their pensions to help pay for nursing home care; and (4) based on data that the Internal Revenue Service compiled, there is reasonable expectation that a substantial number of medical expenses claimed by pension beneficiaries could be overstated.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendation for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should establish procedures for systematically verifying the accuracy of medical expenses claimed by pension beneficiaries.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA has issued new instructions for its regional office staff to use in verifying medical expenses reported by pension beneficiaries.

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