Veterans' Disability Benefits: Claims Processing Challenges and Opportunities for Improvements

GAO-06-283T Published: Dec 07, 2005. Publicly Released: Dec 07, 2005.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights

The Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, asked GAO to report on the claims processing challenges and opportunities facing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation and pension program. For years, the claims process has been the subject of concern and attention within VA and by the Congress and veterans service organizations. Their concerns include long waits for decisions, large claims backlogs, and inaccurate decisions. Our work and media reports of significant discrepancies in average disability payments from state to state have also highlighted concerns over the consistency of decision making within VA. In January 2003, we designated federal disability programs, including VA's compensation and pension programs, as a high-risk area because of continuing challenges to improving the timeliness and consistency of its disability decisions and the need to modernize programs. VA's outdated disability determination process does not reflect a current view of the relationship between impairments and work capacity. Advances in medicine and technology have allowed some individuals with disabilities to live more independently and work more effectively.

Full Report