Veteran Affairs officials hope a series of new pilot programs and recently approved legislation will help them to reach their goal of eliminating the backlog of veterans’ benefits claims by 2015.
Claims take more than 125 days to process, and there are over 200,000 claims waiting for their turn. VA officials hope with these exciting new developments that veterans will receive payments within three months.
Programs such as Quick Pay, Express Lane and the new e-deposit system focus on fast delivery of benefits payment to veterans. Damaged credit, eviction, foreclosure, relocation and homelessness are often the effects of delayed compensation. VA secretary Eric Shinseki says that homelessness in the veteran community could come to an end with the new programs working to end backlog.
Established in St. Petersburg, FL, Quick Pay focuses on techniques to produce faster claims decisions and payments, according to a VA press release on the program. The trick, however, lies with veterans, filling out claims applications accurately and providing a sufficient amount of evidence to back their claim.
The Express Lane Pilot program hones in on VA claims with significant complexity. Some VA employees handle more complicated orders in larger lanes, while other officials ring up smaller, less difficult claims in an express lane, so to speak. The program is currently running in Seattle, WA, Nashville, TN, St. Paul, MN and Muskogee, OK.
The Department of Treasury recently announced that under new federal regulation most benefits now switch to electronic payment. This affects VA benefits, not military payments. The program saves American’s about $120 million a year on the costs of paper use for check payments. It will also give veterans instant access to compensation and lessen the risk of lost or stolen benefits. Deleting the need to print a check, put it in the mail, send it and retrieve lost or stolen information will significantly cut down on the backlog issue.
Other Innovations and Developments
Claims due to Agent Orange exposure and PTSD cases has also contributed to the backlog. So, the VA loosened the rules for veterans filing these claims. Veterans will not have to provide certain information in order to receive benefits, which will cut down on time and errors.
VA officials also developed a benefits calculator to help employees easily calculate payouts for hearing deficiencies. The calculator will extend to nine other conditions as well.
With budget increases, legislation successes—such as the provocative Veterans Benefits Act of 2010—and pilot programs, veterans could see faster payment as early as 2011.
Photo thanks to luxomedia under creative common license on Flickr