WASHINGTON â€” The Department of Veterans Affairs announced it is deploying a new model for processing compensation benefits claims at 16 VA 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 Veterans most in need receive priority attention.
â€œThis new model is a part of our comprehensive plan to eliminate the compensation claims backlog,â€ said Under Secretary for Benefits, Allison A. Hickey. â€œOur redesigned model follows comprehensive planning and testing to ensure we have the right recipe for success.â€
The new organizational model involves special handling of claims from Veterans who are facing the most serious injuries or illnesses or experiencing financial hardships or homelessness, and therefore need immediate attention. Through a new â€œintake processing center,â€ 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 decisionâ€”referred to as â€œfully developed claimsâ€.
- 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 increase speed and accuracy because the claims specialists become familiar with processing claims of similar complexity.
Veterans and their Veterans Service Organization representatives are encouraged to provide all the needed evidence along with their application in a â€œfully developed claimâ€ in order to expedite the process.
Sixteen regional offices have received the new organizational and process model, including Huntington, W.Va.; Hartford, Conn.; Portland, Ore.; Houston, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Boise, Idaho; Phoenix, Ariz.; New Orleans, La.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Atlanta, Ga.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Wichita, Kan.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Newark, New Jersey and Fort Harrison, Mont.
These offices will also receive new technology systems and software upgrades over the next 3 months. All 56 VA regional offices will have fully implemented all of the people, process, and technology initiatives in VAâ€™s transformation plan by the end of 2013.
To learn more about how to file â€œfully developed claimsâ€ using VAâ€™s new disability benefits questionnaires, visit http://benefits.va.gov/disabilityexams.