OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland office of Veterans Affairs improperly filed and then lost about 14,000 unprocessed veterans benefit claims, some dating back to the 1990s, a federal government investigation found.
The unprocessed informal claims were first found in 2012 in a filing cabinet. The VA's Office of Inspector General came to Oakland at the time to help sort out the problems.
According to a report released Wednesday by the inspector general's office, when its representatives arrived for an unannounced site visit in July 2014, none of those records could be found, the Oakland Tribune reported.
The Office of Inspector General was tipped off to the sloppy practices at the Oakland office by Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville. He said as soon as he took office in January 2013, he started hearing from frustrated veterans who complained they were getting the runaround.
"If those records are unfindable, ever, then someone needs to pay a price for allowing that to happen," LaMalfa said. "I'm hopeful they have changed in a new direction, and a lot of good work is coming out, but is it going to be sustained so that they that catch up on the backlog?"
The Oakland office has more than 300 employees and handles claims for veterans throughout Northern California. It currently has about 30,000 claims pending for more than 125 days.
A call to the Oakland VA office was not immediately returned Thursday.