Report Summary

Title: Inspection of VA Regional Office Newark, New Jersey
Report Number: 13-01625-273
Issue Date: 8/28/2013
City/State: Newark, NJ
VA Office: Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
Report Author: Office of Audits and Evaluations
Report Type: Benefits Inspection
Release Type: Unrestricted
Summary: We evaluated the Newark VARO to see how well it accomplishes its mission. We found the VARO staff did not accurately process 21 of 46 disability claims reviewed. We sampled claims that we considered at higher risk of processing errors, thus these results do not represent the overall accuracy of disability claims processing at this VARO. Specifically, 17 of 30 temporary 100 percent disability evaluations were inaccurate. These errors primarily occurred because VARO staff did not take actions to reduce these temporary evaluations as appropriate. Additionally, 4 of 16 traumatic brain injury claims were incorrectly processed because management did not ensure effective second-signature review of these claims. In general, VARO managers ensured Systematic Analyses of Operations were complete and timely and staff addressed Gulf War veterans’ entitlement to mental health treatment as required. VARO staff did not provide adequate outreach to homeless veterans in the VARO’s area of jurisdiction. Due to a lack of performance measures, we could not fully assess the effectiveness of the VARO’s homeless veterans outreach efforts.

We recommended the VARO Director implement a plan to ensure staff follow up to reduce temporary 100 percent disability evaluations as appropriate. The Director should ensure staff review for accuracy the 149 temporary 100 percent disability evaluations we did not sample during our inspection. Management should develop and implement a plan to ensure second-signature review of traumatic brain injury claims. Further, management should ensure staff conduct outreach to homeless veterans in the VARO’s area of jurisdiction as required. The VARO Director concurred with our recommendations.