Technology Modernization Chairman Rosendale Delivers Opening Remarks at Second Oversight Hearing on Pitfalls of VA.gov
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Rep. Matt Rosendale, (R-Mont.), the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, delivered the following remarks, as prepared, at the start of the Subcommittee’s second Oversight Hearing to assess the overall instability of the VA.gov website.
Good afternoon. The Subcommittee will come to order.
This is our second hearing on the VA.gov bugs and the struggles they have created for veterans to access their benefits.
I would like to welcome our witnesses back to discuss these issues.
The number of veterans affected now exceeds 120,000.
To recap, about 32,000 veterans submitted their disability compensation claims through the website, but as our witnesses explained in September, the claims were never established in the system that processes them.
This had been happening since 2018.
In addition, roughly 81,000 veterans and family members’ requests to add or remove dependents on VA.gov and its predecessor system were not processed, causing them to be overpaid or underpaid.
This has been happening all the way back to 2011.
On top of that, other veterans were unable to access the notice of disagreement form on VA.gov to appeal denials of their claims.
This went on for about five weeks before being discovered.
I understand our witnesses have an update on the number of veterans who encountered that problem.
Mistakes are bound to happen. But it’s unacceptable that some of these errors persisted for years before anyone discovered them.
In the last hearing I urged our witnesses to be more proactive in contacting the veterans and offering them help, and I would like an update on that.
Many of these veterans and survivors depend on their VA benefits for most or all of their income.
They need to hear from the VA much more quickly.
We all need to be confident that errors in VA.gov and other systems will never again be allowed to compound undetected and impact so many people.
To that end, I will be introducing the VA Watching Over Electronic Benefits Act.
The VA now has a watchtower to monitor the website, and this legislation will make sure it performs as intended.
I would now like to turn to another problem that our veterans are facing.
In early November, VA informed the Committee that it has been overpaying pensions to at least 9,900 veterans because of inaccurate data from the Social Security Administration and a faulty process for veterans to self-report their income.
This has been going on since 2011, and it may impact as many as 40,000 veterans.
I appreciate our witnesses explaining the situation to Committee staff last week, but there are still quite a few outstanding questions.
When did VA leaders first realize that the data problems were creating pension overpayments?
I understand there is a debt collection moratorium, but how has that been communicated to all the veterans, and how exactly does it work?
When are the debts going to be erased?
And why has the VA still not determined the status of the other 30,000 veterans who may be affected?
These technical issues each affected veterans’ benefits in different ways.
But in each case, we expect the VA to put aside what is convenient for the bureaucracy and move faster.
With that, I yield to Ranking Member Cherfilus-McCormick for her opening statement.