Blue Water Vietnam Veterans Are Getting Benefits, But Not Always the Correct AmountFriday, September 17, 2021
A new watchdog report has shed light on significant oversight at the VA, specifically regarding Blue Water Vietnam veterans and their disability benefits. In many cases, the report has shown the individuals and their families are not receiving how much they deserve.
The report, conducted by the VA Inspector General’s Office, showed that the department had done very well in getting benefits flowing to newly eligible veterans, many of whom became qualified as a result of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act two years ago. Although the VA was able to dole out these benefits quickly, the report states that nearly half of the claims decisions they reviewed from 2020 were inaccurate.
Estimated at a total of $37 million, the inconsistencies were made up of approximately $12 million in underpayments and $25 million in excess payments to individuals. The IG report stated that “Employees did not always know how to correctly process these claims, particularly determining accurate retroactive effective dates for evaluations.”
In recent months, the VA has developed programs for improving training to ensure “special focused quality reviews” to address the problem highlighted in the IG report.
The implementation of the 2019 bill brought with it a complex collection of rules used to determine whether individuals are eligible. These are Blue Water Vietnam Veterans who served not on land, but on ships off the coast of that country during the war.
For years, the VA has granted benefits to those who served on land in Vietnam because of the prevalence of Agent Orange and the conditions related to exposure to the chemical. This status for veterans has allowed them to skip potentially lengthy paperwork. Not until the 2019 bill were veterans who served on ships near Vietnam able to qualify for the same presumptive benefits as those who fought on land.
To address the problem, investigators have called for more training and oversight work. VA officials have claimed that these improvements are already underway. The full report from the Inspector General is available on their website.
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