Veterans' Benefits:

Millions in Savings Possible From VA's Matching Program With IRS and SSA

HRD-92-37: Published: Dec 23, 1991. Publicly Released: Dec 23, 1991.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the effectiveness of using tax data to verify eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, focusing on: (1) VA access to, protection of, and use of the data received from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA); (2) VA plans to verify the data received in contested cases; and (3) VA procedures to protect the beneficiaries' due process rights.

GAO found that: (1) the first VA computer match of income reported under the needs-based pension and parents' dependency and indemnity compensation programs with IRS data on unearned income for tax year 1989 confirmed the potential for substantial savings; (2) initial results show that the same beneficiaries reported nearly $340 million more in unearned income to IRS than to VA for tax year 1989, and officials expect additional savings from matches with SSA earnings data; (3) VA is notifying beneficiaries of the discrepancies found in reported income and will take action to suspend or terminate benefits; (4) VA has safeguarded data received from IRS and SSA, and is following legal procedures to protect beneficiaries' rights; (5) initial results are promising, but one-third of the time the law allowed VA to use IRS and SSA data has been spent gaining access to the data; and (6) VA Health Administration officials have not notified beneficiaries of their intent to verify income, and are still considering how to implement the law most effectively.