Veterans

August 2, 2013

VA grants up to one year of retroactive veterans benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Aug. 1 that veterans filing an original fully developed claim for service-connected disability compensation may be entitled to up to one-year of retroactive disability benefits.

The retroactive benefits, which are in effect Aug. 6, 2013, through Aug. 5, 2015, are a result of a comprehensive legislative package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama last year.

“VA strongly encourages veterans to work with veterans service organizations to file fully developed claims and participate in this initiative, since it means more money in eligible veterans’ pockets simply by providing VA the information it needs up front,” said Allison A. Hickey, Undersecretary for Benefits. “At the same time, it helps reduce the inventory of pending claims by speeding the process.”

Filing an FDC is typically the fastest way for veterans to receive a decision on their claims because fully developed claims require veterans to provide all supporting evidence in their possession when they submit their claims. Often, this is evidence that VA legally must attempt to collect on the veteran’s behalf, which is already in the veteran’s possession, or is evidence the veteran could easily obtain, like private treatment records.

When veterans submit such evidence with their claims, it significantly reduces the amount of time VA spends gathering evidence from them or other sources – often the longest part of the claims process. While VA will still make efforts to obtain federal records on the veterans’ behalf, the submittal of non-federal records [and any federal records the veteran may have] with the claim allows VA to issue a decision to the veteran more quickly. Typically, VA processes FDCs in half the time it takes for a traditionally filed claim.

FDCs can be filed digitally through the joint, DOD-VA online portal, eBenefits. VA encourages veterans who cannot file online to work with an accredited veterans service organization that can file claims digitally on veterans’ behalf. While submitting an FDC provides a faster decision for any compensation or pension claim, only veterans who are submitting their very first compensation claim as an FDC are potentially eligible for up to one year of retroactive disability benefits under the newly implemented law.

FDCs help eliminate VA’s claims backlog because they increase production of claims decisions and decrease waiting times. Also, VA assigns FDCs a higher priority than other claims which means veterans receive decisions to their claim faster than traditional claims.

VA continues to prioritize other specific categories of claims, including those of seriously wounded, terminally ill, Medal of Honor recipients, former prisoners of war, the homeless and those experiencing extreme financial hardship. As part of its drive to eliminate the claims backlog in 2015, VA also gives a priority to claims more than a year old.

In May, VA announced a new partnership with veterans service organizations and others known as the “Community of Practice,” an effort that seeks to reduce the compensation claims backlog for veterans by increasing the number of FDCs filed by veterans and their advocates.

VA is continuing to implement several initiatives to meet the Department’s goal to eliminate the claims backlog in 2015. In May, VA announced that it was mandating overtime for claims processors in its 56 regional benefits offices to increase production of compensation claims decisions through the end of fiscal year 2013. In April, VA launched an initiative to expedite disability compensation claims decisions for veterans who have a waited a year or longer.

As a result of these initiatives, VA’s total claims inventory remains at lower levels not seen since August 2011. The number of claims in the VA backlog – claims pending over 125 days – has been reduced by 17 percent compared to the highest point in March 2013.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

VA announces single regional framework under MyVA initiative

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Jan. 26 that it is taking the first steps under the MyVA initiative to realign its many organizational maps into one map with five regions to better serve Veterans. The new regions under the MyVA alignment will allow VA to begin the process of integrating disparate organizational boundaries into...
 
 
Navy photograph by PO2 Brian Wilbur

Nisei veterans honored with France’s highest award

Navy photograph by PO2 Brian Wilbur Adm. Harry Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, delivers remarks at a ceremony honoring World War II veterans of the 100th Battalion 442nd Regiment at the Japanese Cultural Center of ...
 
 

VA announces appointment of new members to advisory council

The Department of Veterans Affairs is announcing the appointment of new members to the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses. VA will appoint Stephen L. Hauser, MD as committee chair for a term through September, 2016. Hauser is the Robert A. Fishman Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at the...
 

 

Applications accepted for 2015 National Veterans Wheelchair Games

The Department of Veterans Affairs is accepting applications for the 2015 National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Registration began in early January and will close April 15. The National Veterans Wheelchair Games is a sports and rehabilitation program for military service Veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, amputations or certain neurological...
 
 

Report: Agent Orange planes hold risk years after Vietnam

The health of some U.S. Air Force reservists could have been put at risk from the residue left in planes that sprayed Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, the Institute of Medicine reported Jan. 9. There’s not much data about the level of contamination, but limited testing years later make it plausible that some reservists...
 
 

Consolidation of POW/MIA mission moving forward

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Jan. 9 the Defense Department will, effective Monday, consolidate into one new agency the organizations that account for U.S. military prisoners of war and those missing in action. Hagel called for a review early last year to bring together the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, the Joint Personnel Accounting...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>