VA Announces Electronic Disability Claim Application
Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) August 13, 2013 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a new online application for disability compensation claims.
The agency says the online form allows claims to be processed more quickly because the procedure is electronic from start to finish. The VA has already begun implementing a computerized process for handling the paper claims it receives. Officials say electronic claims processing is a key part of the agency's plan to eliminate its infamous claims backlog by the end of 2015.
“Anything that speeds these disability benefits to our deserving veterans is welcome news,” said veterans attorney Andrew Hook. “New applicants may wait well over a year for their claim to be processed in some cases. That kind of delay is simply unacceptable.”
The VA is urging veterans and Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) to use the new system, called “eBenefits,” which they described as similar in features to popular online tax-preparation software that many veterans may have already used. Once a veteran begins entering information to create a claim, they have one year to gather and submit the necessary records. Any benefits eventually awarded will be retroactive to the date the veteran first began the claim process. Supporting records may be uploaded to the eBenefits system in digital form, eliminating the need to send paper copies to the VA and wait for confirmation of receipt.
eBenefits also allows veterans to file an electronic power of attorney form designating an attorney or VSO representative who is allowed to assist with filing their claim. The representative will then be able to track the claim and add additional information. The veteran and their representative may also view and modify the claim at the same time, enabling them to work together without being in the same physical location.
In addition to filing disability claims, eBenefits users can access information about pensions, education and health care benefits, vocational rehabilitation, and employment programs, as well as track claims made for those benefits.
The VA continues to work toward eliminating its claims backlog. On May 15, 2013, the agency announced that claims processors in each of its 56 regional benefits offices were required to work overtime through the end of fiscal year 2013. And in April, the VA announced it would expedite provisional claims for those applicants who had been waiting the longest.
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