The VA recently announced that the Winston-Salem Regional Office had so many veterans disability claim files that the building was unsafe and in danger of collapse from the sheer weight of the files.
Due to the bulk of claims received by the VA every year, file cabinets were packed and claim documents were piled on top of cabinets, in boxes on the floor, and along the walls. A load-bearing study revealed that the overall weight exceeded the floor’s capacity by almost 40 pounds per square foot.
VA Building at Risk of Collapse Creates Dangers for Employees
The problems apparently started in 2005, when the Winston-Salem RO started collecting disability claims prior to service members’ discharge from service. Although staff did the best they could to transfer or retire files, they finally ran out of space and could not be given more because of lack of funds and easy storage options.
An Inspector General report concluded that the piles of files resulted in an “unsafe environment” for employees. At least one worker had already been injured in 2011 when files fell off a cabinet. Moreover, the files themselves are at risk: lack of proper storage means they are more likely to be damaged by water or fire — or misplaced altogether.
Plans to Fix the Problem of Too Many VA Files
VA staff immediately moved some files to other floors after the inspection. The office plans to buy a high-density file system for the building’s basement. They obviously also look forward to the VA-Department of Defense integrated electronic medical records system that is planned for the future.
See the full NBC News article: “VA office stacked 37,000 files on cabinets after running out of storage”
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