CIR Report: Overtime, New Computer System Putting Sizable Dent In VA Benefits Backlog

Far fewer veterans are facing long waits for disability compensation after the Department of Veterans Affairs spent the past six months focusing on the backlog, including mandating case worker overtime and rolling out a new computer system. In Iowa, 4,743 veterans were waiting at the beginning of November for disability benefits. On Nov. 12 the number was down to 4,678. Both totals are down from 6,714 at the beginning of this year.

Lack Of Data May Put The G.I. Bill At Risk, News21 Investigation Reveals

The federal government has yet to document how many students on the Post-9/11 GI Bill have graduated, or even if they stayed in school. Tom Harkin’s Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions questions whether or not veterans attending for-profit schools were benefiting from the education or being used to meet certain federal funding requirements. A committee led by Sen. Tom Harkin has looked into the problem.

News21 Investigation Uncovers VA Bonuses While Vets Wait

Some regional offices paid bonuses to VA workers while veterans waited for claims to be processed. At least costly efforts to go paperless have improved wait times. Your portal to these stories, plus several more in this special report from the News21 project, is here.

VA and Defense Department Hope Electronic Records System Moves Cases Faster

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense spent at least $1.3 billion during the last four years trying unsuccessfully to develop a single electronic health-records system between the two departments — leaving veterans’ disability claims to continue piling up in paper files across the country, a News21 investigation shows. This does not include billions of other dollars wasted during the last three decades, including $2 billion spent on a failed upgrade to the DOD’s existing electronic health-records system. For a veteran in the disability claims process, these records are critical: They include DOD service and health records needed by the VA to decide veterans’ disability ratings and the compensation they will receive for their injuries. Stacks of paper files — including veterans’ evidence from DOD of their military service and injuries — sit at VA regional offices waiting to be processed instead of being readily accessible in electronic files. Although Congress repeatedly has demanded an “integrated” and “interoperable” electronic health-records system, neither the DOD nor the VA is able to completely access the other’s electronic records.

Getting G.I. Benefits is a Challenge for Iowa’s Veterans in College

The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill promises a college education, paid in full, for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Getting that promise fulfilled however, is difficult for some Iowa veterans whose payments arrive as many as two months later than expected, leaving them struggling to pay for housing and other living expenses.