According to an article recently published by Spectrum News NY1, the Department of Veterans Affairs has not reduced the backlog of claims as quickly as it should have. These backlog delays have been caused by the decision of the Veterans Benefits Administration to no longer require that Veterans Law Judges have several years of prior experience in Veteran benefits law.
Doug Massey, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 17 stated, “I believe it was in February 2020, when the then board chairman, Cheryl Mason, hired somebody for the very first time with no veterans law experience. I got a deluge of emails from attorneys and also from the board members as well who are upset about this.”
This statement was backed up by a letter from an anonymous whistleblower that was sent to the law firm of Chisholm Chisholm & Kirkpatrick LTD, which claimed that “85% of the new judges hired since the summer of 2021 have no experience in VA benefits law.” Massey pointed out that he had provided similar data to VA management up to and including Secretary Denis McDonough and received no response.
Massey further stated that, “On average, a board member should produce about sign about between 15 and 20 decisions per week. Now, the data we have during this period is from October 1 to July 31. They were averaging about maybe four decisions a week. I also received data from a board member saying that if these inexperienced people had not been hired and put in these positions, we’d be 2,000 decisions ahead of where we are right now.”
To read the full article from Spectrum News, click here.