On August 25, 2022, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) published their audit of the Veterans Benefits Administration titled Improved Processing Needed for Veterans’ Claims of Contaminated Water Exposure at Camp Lejeune. OIG was able to conclude that approximately 21,000 claims, or 37 percent, were incorrectly processed for two primary reasons: 1) prematurely denying claims; and 2) assigning incorrect effective dates of benefits entitlement.
On January 13, 2017, the Office of the Federal Register published the final rule titled Diseases Associated with Exposure to Contaminants in the Water Supply at Camp Lejeune granting eight presumptive diseases associated with service at Camp Lejeune. The effective date of the Final Rule was March 14, 2017. Approximately 57,500 claims were submitted to the Veterans Benefits Administration relating to Camp Lejeune Injuries between March 14, 2017, and March 31, 2021. This timeframe was used as the audit period.
Claims that were prematurely denied were due to insufficient evidence to process a claim. OIG was able to identify that veterans were not properly contacted to obtain supporting evidence before being denied. The cause of the denials were found to be due to a lack of experience of handling these claims and a supervisor providing incorrect guidance.
Claims that were granted and did not receive an accurate date of entitlement for benefits amounted to 14% of the 37% of mishandled claims. It is estimated that veterans were underpaid a total of $13.8 million.
The Office of Inspector General provided two recommendations as a result of their audit. Based on error rates, OIG recommends consolidating the Camp Lejeune-related claims to the Louisville VA Regional Office and/or reporting to the OIG the results of targeted quality reviews across all regional offices until the accuracy rate meets or exceeds the Veterans Benefits Administration’s goals.
The Nations Law Firm continues to fight for the rights of those injured by Camp Lejeune toxic water. We are honored to represent and fight for our Veterans. To read more about Camp Lejeune, please visit our Reports and Resources page or call our office at (800)800-1102.