The practice of using remote questionnaires for disability determination evaluations by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is being brought into question after leading to an alleged fraud. Remote questionnaires conducted by private physicians have grown in popularity as a way of conducting evaluations without requiring travel to VA offices, which is convenient for veterans in isolated areas or who have mobility issues. However, the allegations of fraud show that the practice has serious flaws, and that the remote questionnaire is not an adequate replacement for evaluations within the VA system.
When a veteran applies for disability benefits through the VA, they are evaluated to determine the nature and severity of their disability, as well as whether their disability is connected to their military service. Typically, this involves an evaluation by VA staff and requires an examination of a person’s service record and medical records to make these determinations. However, the VA has increasingly resorted to remote questionnaires, which are conducted by private doctors outside the VA system. The goal was to help address the VA’s backlog, which often results in veterans waiting months or years for a disability determination.
The result, the VA inspector general has found, is more erroneous rulings and increased fraud. Even when the private medical professionals are completely honest (and they are not always honest), the lack of uniformity in applying standards can lead to wildly divergent results in disability determinations. In some cases, the private doctors conducting the evaluations could not even provide evidence they conducted the remote questionnaire in person. In other words, these remote questionnaires, while convenient, are a poor substitute for evaluations by doctors within the VA system.
Fraud not only hurts taxpayers, but also harms veterans and their ability to access the healthcare and financial benefits they’re entitled to. The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veteran’s disability lawyers may be able to assist you or a loved one in obtaining VA disability benefits. Call our office at (800) 395 -7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.