GAO: Disability System Needs Better Management

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report (GAO-12-676) on the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), established by the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The system has been gradually implemented since 2007 in an effort to accelerate the adjudication of benefit claims for injured service members.

Despite the goal of determining VA claims in 125 days with 98 percent accuracy by 2015, claims adjudication time has increased from an average of 283 days for active duty claims in FY 2008 to 394 days in FY 2011. Only 19 percent of active duty claims were adjudicated within 125 days or less in FY 2011. DoD and VA are making efforts to streamline and improve IDES, but the report notes that it is too early to determine if these efforts are successful. 

FRA has repeatedly expressed concern about the growing backlog of VA disability claims in congressional testimony, meetings with legislators and their staff, and interaction with DoD and VA leaders. Those service members injured in service to their country deserve accurate, consistent and timely disability determinations.