WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed Monday that it failed to contact tens of thousands of the more than 800,000 veterans who have applications for health care pending, nearly 300,000 of whom died before getting a resolution.
VA is required by law to notify veterans of incomplete applications but could not verify that this had been done in the cases of 545,000 living veterans and 288,000 deceased veterans with pending claims. It was unclear Monday whether the veterans and their families will qualify for compensation.
The findings, which were released Monday, are the result of a monthslong VA analysis published six months after a report for the Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General, which came up with similar conclusions.
In the report, the department calls the pending applications incomplete, putting the onus on the veterans to add information to their formal requests for health care.
Scott Davis, the whistleblower who first reported the problem of pending applications, said most of them were erroneously marked as incomplete because they called for an income test or were missing a military service record called DD214, which the VA specifically told applicants not to include.
“When we’ve done reviews before we have found that a high (number) of these veterans were because of mistakes by the VA, not the veteran,” said Davis, a program manager at the VA’s national enrollment office with an inside view of the enrollment system.
Davis called on the VA automatically to enroll veterans on the pending list who qualify and said the department is delaying because it could be forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to veterans who were wrongly deprived care.