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New study shows complications in VA claims process

WASHINGTON — America’s veterans can run into as many as 613 forms across 18 agencies as they seek services, according to a new report.

The American Action Forum found that paperwork needed for health benefits claims — in part the result of 31.2 million Veterans Affairs claims each year — takes federal employees roughly 43.3 million hours to process.

“Navigating 18 agencies and more than 600 forms has produced absurd results and unnecessary delays,” the report reads.

The massive backlog at the Veterans Affairs has resulted in calls for change from the White House, Capitol Hill and the public.

Other findings in the study:

  • A disabled veteran seeking health and educational benefits could encounter up to 49 different forms, more than four hours of paperwork, and an aggregate cost of $125, assuming $31 per hour of compliance time.
  • One collection, “Income-Net Worth and Employment Statement,” contains 40 questions, takes one hour to complete, and VA receives more than 104,000 responses every year.
  • Four different agencies administer 12 million hours of paperwork related to veterans’ employment and training, imposing 24 different forms, at a cost of $892 million.

“VA, the Government Accounting Office and other agencies have already diagnosed the problem of overlap and duplication, but Veterans Affairs continues to struggle,” American Action wrote. “If Congress cannot fashion a legislative remedy, veterans will have to rely on the same system that has failed them repeatedly in the past.”

The American Action Forum describes itself as “center-right,” and says it does not take positions on policy.

news@stripes.com

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