* Mark Maxwell…
A malicious cyber attack launched in early July paralyzed a statewide computer program built to help Illinois veterans claim their benefits from the government.
The outage blanketed the state for at least six weeks and disrupted thousands of claims likely worth several million dollars, according to state records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Veterans were left to fill out pages of tedious paperwork and submit their claims on fax machines. The logjam delayed benefit claims that run the gamut, including drastic reductions in processed medical claims for wounded veterans, burial benefits for surviving family members and pension benefits for widows. […]
Stranded without access to their computers and some without internet, Veteran Service Officers worked overtime to fill out as many claims as they could on paper. Now that the program is back up and running, many of those claims are still waiting to be submitted online. Army veteran Justin Jennings works at the Springfield location and says he still sees a staggering amount of wounded combat veterans come in to claim benefits for the first time. […]
(N)early halfway through the fiscal year, the total figures and monthly averages in FY2018 are far behind the number of claims filed in previous years.
Veterans Compensation benefits are down 57 percent; Widows Pension benefit claims are 45 percent behind where they were last year; Veterans Pensions idle at 48 percent below FY17 figures; VA Education benefit claims lag 65 percent behind; DOD Combat Related Special Compensation claims suffered at a rate of 60 percent on average; Monthly Discharge/Medal claims were filed 73 percent slower after the July cyber attack; Also stuck in a 73 percent nosedive are death benefits for veterans killed in the line of duty and burial benefits granted to surviving family members; VA Insurance claims are down 62 percent so far this fiscal year.
Go read the rest.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Kennedy campaign…
This is yet another example of Governor Rauner and a broken system in Springfield failing our most vulnerable—our seniors and veterans.
Veterans risked their lives for us and, in return, Bruce Rauner watches as a growing claims backlog puts their health and, ultimately, their lives in jeopardy. Veterans left behind widows whose benefits have diminished under Rauner’s administration.
Bruce Rauner owes veterans and their families further explanation about why he’s knowingly let them suffer and he owes them an expedited plan to fully restore the online claims system and the benefits he’s withheld. It’s time for our elected leaders in both parties to demand accountability for failures so we can bring back transparency, faith and credibility to state government.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Pritzker campaign…
Thousands of Veteran benefits potentially totaling millions of dollars have lapsed after Bruce Rauner let a Department of Veterans’ Affairs hack spin out of control.
While millions of dollars in healthcare, pension, widow and burial benefits were interrupted, Bruce Rauner did little to address the hack, even praising a “rapid response” effort. This “rapid response” consisted of the entire statewide system shutting down for six weeks, forcing benefits to be administered through phone and fax. Almost six months after the hack, medical benefits for wounded veterans have plummeted by 62%, pension benefits for widows have dropped by 45%, and burial benefits have dropped by over 70%.
“Bruce Rauner’s gross mismanagement of our state government is costing veterans who bravely served our country the security and dignity they deserve,” said JB Pritzker. “Instead of taking charge and providing the leadership needed to navigate the state through this crisis, Rauner continues to evade responsibility and try to cover up the truth. Whole agencies of state government are not functioning, the lives of our nation’s heroes are on the line, and Illinoisans deserves answers from their failed governor.”
*** UPDATE 3 *** Sen. Biss…
“It’s outrageous that Bruce Rauner continues to neglect his responsibility to our veterans. We have a social and moral responsibility to provide the best our government can offer to the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country. Instead, veterans have lost their lives and are being denied the benefits they earned because our governor either lacks the empathy or the ability to effectively manage our state.
“Bruce Rauner is solely responsible for the way social services have failed our state’s most vulnerable residents under his watch. And while he’d like you to think “he’s not in charge” and that all our state’s problems are anyone else’s fault, the reality is that Bruce Rauner is a complete failure and a callous villain with no heart. There is no excuse for the pain and destruction he has caused Illinois families. That’s why we need a governor with experience, who will represent middle-class families across Illinois.”
* Ill. Senator tours vets’ home due to Legionella cases: Cullerton said he hopes to find out through the hearing when the outbreaks actually occurred and why families weren’t notified immediately. He believed residents at the home shouldn’t have to worry about coming down with an illness like Legionnaires’ disease.