Report Summary

Title: Inspection of VA Regional Office Togus, Maine
Report Number: 13-02257-294
Issue Date: 9/9/2013
City/State: Togus, ME
VA Office: Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
Report Author: Office of Audits and Evaluations
Report Type: Benefits Inspection
Release Type: Unrestricted
Summary: We evaluated the Togus VARO to see how well it accomplishes its mission. We found the VARO staff did not accurately process 4 of 39 disability claims reviewed. We sampled claims we considered at higher risk of processing errors, thus these results do not represent the overall accuracy of disability claims processing at this VARO. Generally, VARO staff processed temporary 100 percent disability evaluations correctly. However, staff incorrectly processed 2 of 9 traumatic brain injury claims. These errors occurred because staff used insufficient medical examination reports and misinterpreted VBA policy when rating the claims. Systematic Analyses of Operations were incomplete and untimely. VARO managers lacked adequate measures to ensure staff addressed all required elements and submitted the annual analyses by the due date. Staff accurately addressed Gulf War veterans’ entitlement to mental health treatment and provided adequate outreach to homeless veterans in the VARO’s area of jurisdiction. However, we could not fully assess the effectiveness of these outreach activities because VBA lacked performance metrics for its Homeless Veterans Outreach Program.

We recommended the VARO Director implement a plan to ensure staff return insufficient medical examination reports to obtain the evidence required to support traumatic brain injury evaluations. The Director should also implement a plan to ensure staff completely and timely address all required elements of Systematic Analyses of Operations. The Director concurred with our recommendations but did not agree with 2 of the 4 claims processing errors identified.