Report Summary

Title: Audit of VA Regional Offices' Appeals Management Processes
Report Number: 10-03166-75
Issue Date: 5/30/2012
VA Office: Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
Report Author: Office of Audits and Evaluations
Report Type: Audits, Reviews & Evaluations
Release Type: Unrestricted
Summary: We determined whether opportunities exist to improve VARO timeliness in processing appeals of rating decisions. The nationwide inventory of appeals increased over 30 percent to about 209,000 in FY 2010 and the inventory of compensation rating claims also increased by 40 percent to 532,000 claims. Opportunities exist to improve appeals processing at regional offices. Regional office managers did not assign enough staff to process appeals, diverted staff from appeals processing, and did not ensure appeals staff acted on appeals promptly because compensation claims processing was their highest priority. We found the de novo review process results in quicker decisions on the veterans’ appeals because decision review officers can render new decisions without awaiting new evidence as required with traditional reviews. VARO staff did not properly record 145 appeals in Veterans Appeal Control and Locator System (VACOLS) that delayed processing for an average of 444 days. The Under Secretary for Benefits generally agreed opportunities exist to improve appeals processing and stated VBA was conducting a pilot program to assess the feasibility of implementing most of our recommendations. We will follow up on the implementation of the corrective actions.