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Despite backlogs, VA disability claims processors get bonuses

Mary Shinn/News21 -  Sean Meade was an Army National Guard soldier who was deployed to Iraq during 2006 and 2007. He filed a disability claim in 2008 for back problems and post-traumatic stress disorder. After his PTSD claim was denied, he appealed in 2009 and is still waiting for a response.

Mary Shinn/News21 – Sean Meade was an Army National Guard soldier who was deployed to Iraq during 2006 and 2007. He filed a disability claim in 2008 for back problems and post-traumatic stress disorder. After his PTSD claim was denied, he appealed in 2009 and is still waiting for a response.

By Mary Shinn, Daniel Moore and Steven Rich

While veterans waited longer than ever in recent years for their wartime disability compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs gave its workers millions of dollars in bonuses for “excellent” performances that effectively encouraged them to avoid claims that needed extra work to document veterans’ injuries, a News21 investigation has found.

In 2011, a year in which the claims backlog ballooned by 155 percent, more than two-thirds of claims processors shared $5.5 million in bonuses, according to salary data from the Office of Personnel Management.

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