July 19, 2012

VA improves online access to benefits information

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON– Nearly 1.7 million veterans and service members have registered for the Department of Veterans Affairs-Department of Defense web portal, eBenefits, which provides online information and access to a wide variety of military and veteran benefits resources.

A VA news release issued today says about 1.67 million users have signed up, and notes the strong pace of registrations for the site since its launch in October 2009 has allowed VA to exceed its fiscal year 2012 agency priority goal of 1.65 million user. That puts it on track to meet the 2013 goal of 2.5 million.

“We know that three out of four veterans who use VA services want to connect online, so we must be there for them with the information they need,” Allison Hickey, the VA’s undersecretary for benefits, stated in the release.

Hickey added that eBenefits “is clearly becoming the platform of choice for veterans seeking access.”

Veterans and service members new to the eBenefits website are guided through the registration process to get a full-access account, called a premier account which allows maximum ability to update personal information and learn about benefits without having to visit a VA facility. With the premier account, veterans can access multiple applications on the secure portion of the website.

A premier account also allows veterans to check the status of compensation and pension claims filed with VA. This feature, the most popular within the eBenefits application, had over 700,000 visits in June alone, according to the news release. Overall, visits to the site have increased 60 percent over the previous year, approaching 2 million each month.

On July 1, VA introduced its 11th consecutive quarterly release of improvements to the eBenefits application, including benefits eligibility email messages to service members as they reach career milestones and a new Career Center page.

Another key function is a single sign-on capability for veterans to transition securely between benefits information on eBenefits and health information on VA’s myHealtheVet website without an additional log-on.

VA says it has completed a record-breaking 1 million claims per year during the last two fiscal years and is on target to complete another 1 million claims in fiscal year 2012.

Even so, the agency acknowledged too many veterans have to wait too long to get the benefits they have earned, and that is why VA is aggressively building a strong foundation for a paperless, digital disability claims system that it says will transform operations and eliminate the backlog. The VA says the plan will help achieve Secretary Eric K. Shinseki’s goal of completing veterans’ claims in less than 125 days with 98 percent accuracy in 2015.

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