VBA Improves Veterans Benefits Claims Process

by Robert Stretch on October 11, 2010

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) underwent a hearing conducted by John Hall, Chair of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, to ensure the department was improving efforts to resolve veterans benefit claims.

The VA acknowledged that improvements had occurred in the claims process in conjunction with the increasing quality of the VBA’s training model. The VA also ensured that pending claims would begin to decrease as training continues to evolve. “It is indisputable that VBA’s staff and the training they receive have increased due to Congressional action,” said Chairman Hall, “however additional efforts are needed to ensure that veterans, their families, and survivors receive their just benefits in a timely and accurate manner.”

Since 2007, the VBA has been increasing efforts to improve the benefits claims process, and Congress has distributed over $750 million to the VA to ensure the VBA has the funding to do so. Over 10,000 VBA claims processors have been hired, and new legislation was passed in 2008 which required a better training program and appropriate resources to be made to VBA claims personnel.

However, in spite of the improvements, more effort is needed to increase the VBA’s efficiency.  In 2009, twenty percent of all disability claims processed by the VBA were done so incorrectly, and nearly 200,000 claims were delayed for four or more months. “The VA must do a better job ensuring that its claims processors receive the right kind of training to decide veterans’ cases correctly the first time,” stated Chairman Hall. “At this point in time, it is failing to meet that standard.”

To ensure the success of the VBA training program, Congress delegated the Government Accountability Office with the task of examining the program. The GAO confirmed that improvements had been made, but stated that there were still several areas where efforts needed to be focused.

Since the hearing, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has set higher standards for the VBA demanding that the VBA claims backlog be wiped clean by 2015, and that the claims process will not exceed 125 days.

Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Bob Filner, was delighted with the VBA’s improved efforts as well as the new goals set by Secretary Shinseki. “If we continue to concentrate on these efforts,” stated Chairman Filner, “I am confident that we can fix this broken claims system so that our veterans, their families, and survivors receive the 21st Century, world-class benefits and services they deserve.”

Photo thanks to American Progress Action under creative common license on Flickr.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

David Rizer October 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm

I will probably get black listed or something similiar but I have to say, this is all terrific EXCEPT it is just not really happening within the VA Regionals. Newer veterans are getting a better shake than the old ones that soon will all be gone (problem solved for that part). Sadly, many are in a similiar boat as I am. I have used the VA and yes, every month is a challenge to be able to make a payment. Usually, I have to decide between groceries, gas or payment to VA. I spent over 40years living a complete disasterious life. Now, it is only getting worse. Maybe it is my time to do what I believe is the right thing, I am not sure yet. Thank you, good luck an hopefully the day will come that veteran’s don’t have to beg or live a life of failures.

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Robert Stretch October 28, 2010 at 1:53 pm

David,

Our blog is not associated with the VA, we are only an outlet to try to spread news and information to the veteran community. You bring up a point that I have heard before, that there is a rift between older veterans and new veterans. If you would like to express your views, we would love to host an editorial of yours on our “YOU Benefit” section of the blog. Click the “write for us” button on top to see our writing guidelines if you’re interested.

I highly appreciate your feedback and hope everything works out. Thanks for your service to our country.

Rob

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Bill November 22, 2010 at 4:28 am

I am a disabled vietnam vet.. lucky by some standards.. didnt recieve a purple heart but did see lots of action. on a river boat that was blown up by a rocket… then on a distroyer that hit a mine and was almost sunk. this messed me up in more ways than I can count… mentally.. no purple heart of scratches, bumps and bruzes and headaches. after 4 marriages, more jobs than I care to remember.. I finally desided to ask VA for help.. in many ways they have been a life saver.. but i have played word games with them for almost 10 years… yes i do have DAV helping me and had a wonderful person helping me until last year… he left the DAV… dont know why… now i have someone that seems like he works for VA and not me…

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