VA OIG report – Denied Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Claims Related to Military Sexual Trauma

Link to the original report

I will not post any comments on this, I think the article speaks for itself.

From the summary:

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA’s) denied claims related to veterans’ military sexual trauma (MST) to determine whether staff correctly processed the claims according to VBA policy.

Some service members are reluctant to submit a report of MST, particularly when the perpetrator is a superior officer. Victims may have concerns about the potential for negative performance reports or punishment for collateral misconduct. There is also sometimes the perception of an unresponsive military chain of command. If the MST leads to posttraumatic stress disorder, it is often difficult for victims to produce evidence to support the occurrence of the assault. VBA policy, therefore, requires staff to follow additional steps for processing MST-related claims so veterans have additional opportunities to provide adequate evidence.

Based on its sample, the OIG estimated that VBA staff incorrectly processed about 1,300 of the 2,700 MST-related claims denied during the review period April 2017 through September 2017. This may have resulted in the denial of benefits to veterans who could have been entitled to receive them.

The OIG determined multiple factors led to the improper processing and denial of MST-related claims, including lack of reviewers’ specialization and no additional level of review, discontinued special focus reviews, and inadequate training.

The OIG made six recommendations to the Under Secretary for Benefits including that VBA review all approximately 5,500 MST-related claims denied from October 2016 through September 2017, take corrective action on those claims in which VBA staff did not follow all required steps, assign MST-related claims to a specialized group of claims processors, and improve oversight and training on addressing MST-related claims.

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