40,000 Packages of Backlogged Claims Material Discovered at Single VA Office

More than 40,000 backlogged mail packages of veterans’ disability claims material were discovered at a VA regional office in Florida, according to a new report from the VA inspector general.

Investigators also found more than 1,600 boxes of unprocessed veterans’ claims material at a scanning facility with which the St. Petersburg, Florida, regional office was contracting.

The report, published Wednesday, comes just after VA officials touted the reduction of backlogged claims to just under 75,000 cases, a decrease of 88 percent from the highest point in 2013. While the agency had committed to reducing claims backlog to zero by the end of fiscal year 2015, VA officials have since admitted that it may never reach “absolute zero.”

The investigation into the St. Petersburg regional office was launched in response to an anonymous allegation about massive claims backlog at the facility in July 2014.

In reviews that occurred at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015, the inspector general discovered that over 41,900 pieces of mail containing veterans’ claims information were backlogged at the Florida facility. Additionally, investigators found more than 1,600 boxes of claims material waiting to be processed at a CACI International Inc. scanning facility in Georgia that was helping to scan and store claims information from veterans using the Florida office.

The boxes at the contractor facility contained “significant amounts” of unprocessed claims information that were more than 30 days old, despite the VA’s contract with CACI requiring the company enter claims material into the online database within five calendar days of its arrival.