Skip to Highlights
Highlights

In 2005, Congress created a traumatic injury insurance benefit program, known as TSGLI, to help servicemembers with traumatic brain injury and other serious injuries with the financial burdens that they and their families face. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the program, in collaboration with the Department of Defense (DOD), while the branches of service are responsible for deciding servicemembers' claims. GAO examined (1) the TSGLI approval rate for traumatic brain injury claimants, and whether DOD and VA have assurance that claims are processed accurately, consistently, and in a timely manner and (2) any challenges servicemembers with traumatic brain injury may have faced in accessing TSGLI benefits, and the extent to which DOD and VA have taken steps to address such challenges. GAO analyzed program data and interviewed DOD and VA officials, servicemembers, and medical professionals.

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Veterans Affairs 1. To improve management of the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection Program (known as TSGLI) and ensure that all injured servicemembers receive accurate, consistent, and timely treatment, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should work with the Secretary of Defense and the branches of service to implement a systematic quality assurance review process to help ensure that TSGLI benefit decisions are accurate and consistent within and across the services. For example, VA could expand its planned review of a sample of TSGLI claim decisions into a systematic, ongoing quality assurance review process.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has taken a two-pronged approach to implementing this recommendation. First, VA's contractor, the Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, created a claims analyst position. This analyst works with VA and the branches of service to review all incoming claims to validate decisions and develop reports to assess consistency of claims decisions across the branches of service. These reports identify opportunities for training needs and changes to the claims process. As of March 2010, the analysis of claims has resulted in two training sessions for the branches of service on a range of topics, including the consistency and quality of claims decisions. Second, VA implemented a quality review process whereby VA staff review a random sample of 50 claims on a quarterly basis. Results from this review also are used to identify areas for improvement and additional training.
Department of Veterans Affairs 2. To improve management of the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection Program (known as TSGLI) and ensure that all injured servicemembers receive accurate, consistent, and timely treatment, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should work with the Secretary of Defense and the branches of service to take steps to ensure that the data required to assess approval rates for traumatic brain injury and the timeliness of key steps in the TSGLI claims process are reliable and comprehensive.
Closed - Implemented
With regard to data required to assess approval rates for traumatic brain injury claims, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported that it implemented changes to its data systems to capture all injury types, including all traumatic brain injury claims. VA also reported it has implemented a systematic reconciliation process to improve the reliability of its timeliness data. Reports with missing or inaccurate dates are returned to the branches of service for correction or further explanation. VA held a conference call, sent written guidance, and produced a web-based training module for the branches of service to clarify definitions for key timeliness data. Finally, the agency has modified its data systems to allow it to calculate timeliness by type of injury, including traumatic brain injury.

Full Report