VA Rolls Out New Claim Processby Michael Patrick Brewer on Jul. 14, 2012, under Veterans Worldwide
Any of you who have benefited from the VA claim process know how hard this Administration has worked over the past 10 years to update and improve the system of delivery. Retired General Eric Shinseki has done a stellar job in implementing programs, from the expediting of the lingering Agent Orange claims to taking care of our rural veterans. I like this guy.
In the climate of political polarity, pugnacity and pugilistic radio show hosts, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. There are people who wake every day with the intention of making the world a better place. The Veterans Administration, with all their foibles, is one of them.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced July 11 it is deploying a new
model for processing compensation benefits claims at 16 of its regional offices.
The new model is part of a comprehensive transformation plan designed to yield
an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 additional compensation claim decisions
annually, while ensuring that veterans who are most in need get high priority.
“This new model is a part of our comprehensive plan to eliminate the
compensation claims backlog,” said Allison Hickey, VA’s undersecretary for
benefits. “Our redesigned model follows comprehensive planning and testing to
ensure we have the right recipe for success.”
As of July 11, VA reported a total number of 883,914 pending disability claims
in its system; 588,447 of those are in backlog (pending more than 125 days).
For the past two fiscal years, VA has completed more than 1 million claims;
Hickey said the department is on target to hit the same benchmark for fiscal
2012. In the past four months, the accuracy rate for VA claims processors has
risen from 83 to 87 percent.
Recently, VA has been focusing on completing the disability claims for Vietnam
War-era veterans. Last year, 260,000 claims for Agent Orange-related illnesses
“We are done with that, and redirecting more than 2,300 claims experts to handle
the remaining backlog,” Hickey said, adding that 83 percent of veterans from the
global war on terrorism who filed disability claims are already receiving
The new organizational model involves the special handling of claims from
veterans with the most serious injuries or illnesses, experiencing financial
hardships, or are homelessness, and need immediate attention. Through a new
“intake processing center,” claims are routed to one of three segmented lanes:
• Express: claims that have only one or two medical conditions, or have all the
supporting documentation, medical evidence and service records needed for an
expeditious rating decision (referred to as fully developed claims).
• Special Operations: claims requiring special handling because of the unique
circumstances of the veterans. These include financial hardship, homelessness,
serious wounds, injuries or illnesses, post-traumatic stress disorder associated
with military sexual trauma, and former prisoner-of-war status.
• Core: claims with more than two medical conditions, or those that will need
additional evidence to make a compensation decision.
The segmented-lanes approach helps to increase speed and accuracy because the
claims specialists are processing claims with similar levels of complexity.
Hickey said that VA expects 20 percent of claims to be handled in the express
lane, 20 percent in special operations, and 60 percent in the core lane.
Veterans and their veterans service organization representatives are encouraged
to provide all the needed evidence along with their application in a “fully
developed claim” in order to expedite the process. Hickey said that any veteran
who wants to file a claim should work with their VSOs, who know how to
thoroughly develop claims and, secondly, be sure to use VA’s disability benefits
Sixteen regional offices have received the new segmented-lanes model, including
Huntington, W.Va.; Hartford, Conn.; Portland, Ore.; Houston, Cleveland, Des
Moines, Iowa; Boise, Idaho; Phoenix, New Orleans, San Juan, Puerto Rico;
Atlanta, Indianapolis, Wichita, Kan.; Milwaukee, Newark, N.J.; and Fort
Harrison, Mont. These offices will also receive new technology systems and
software upgrades over the next three months.
All of the people, processes, and technology initiatives in VA’s transformation
plan should be fully implemented at all 56 VA regional offices by the end of
Jose M. Garcia PNC
National Service Officer
Catholic War Veterans,USA
Better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot.
In God We Trust