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DAMA Chairman Luttrell During Oversight Hearing on Appealed Claims Decisions: “Churning out numbers is more important to the Board than ensuring veterans are receiving the right answers on their claims.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Rep. Morgan Luttrell, (R-Texas), the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, delivered the following remarks, as prepared, at the start of the Subcommittee’s Oversight Hearing to ensure high quality decision-making for veterans’ claims on appeal:


The subcommittee will come to order.


Good morning, everyone.


Thank you to all our witnesses for being here.


Today, we will be taking a close look at whether V.A. does enough to ensure that veterans receive high-quality decisions in their claims on appeal. Veterans often wait years for a final answer on their claims, and we owe them answers that are correct and fair. 


The VA Board of Veterans’ Appeals is primarily responsible for ensuring that veterans receive accurate answers.  And when the Board decides that the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) made mistakes when initially processing a claim, VBA is responsible for correcting those mistakes. 


We know that Board and VBA employees are dedicated to providing veterans with high-quality decisions. 


But under the Biden Administration, Board leadership’s primary concern is issuing a high number of decisions on veterans’ claims on appeal.  Board leadership has failed to implement measures to ensure that these decisions are correct and fair for each and every veteran.


Churning out numbers is more important to the Board than ensuring veterans are receiving the right answers on their claims. 


We question the accuracy of the over 90% quality assurance rates that the Board has reported to Congress. How can the Board’s quality rate be that high, when the Veterans Court catches the same mistakes being made over and over again, and when the Veterans Court stated that in fiscal year 2022 only 5% of Board denials on appeal were legally correct? 


We are concerned about whether the Board and VBA informs specific employees about their past mistakes so that they can learn from them. And we will continue monitoring whether VA is training employees enough so that they can provide every veteran with legally accurate answers.


It is important for us to ensure that our veterans receive the fair and just outcomes they deserve.


To provide insights into these quality issues, we will be hearing from VA and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.  We will also hear from Disabled American Veterans, the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, the law firm of Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the American Federation of Government Employees.


I would also like to recognize Ms. Carol Whitmore, the Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. who is with us today. Ma’am thank you so much for joining us today.


I want to thank everyone again for being here today, and I am looking forward to our conversation about what we can do to ensure that VA provides every veteran with a high-quality decision in their claims on appeal.


With that, I yield to Ranking Member Pappas for his opening statement.
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