Watchdog: 900,000 vets have pending health care applications

WASHINGTON (AP) — An internal watchdog says nearly 900,000 veterans have pending applications for health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But a report by the VA's inspector general says "serious" problems with enrollment data make it impossible to determine how many of the 867,000 veterans with pending applications were actively seeking VA health care.

About one-third of those with pending applications are likely deceased, but the report says "data limitations" prevent investigators from determining how many now-deceased veterans applied for health care benefits or when. The applications go back nearly two decades and officials said some applicants may have died years ago.

The report also says VA workers incorrectly marked thousands of unprocessed health-care applications as completed and may have deleted 10,000 or more electronic "transactions" over the past five years.