The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is steadily chipping down its backlog of disability claims. According to a recent press release, veterans’ claims that have been waiting decisions for longer than 125 days – the magic maximum number of days the VA has targeted for processing all claims by 2015 – “has been reduced by 17 percent compared to the highest point in March 2013,” during VA’s struggle to transition from paper to digital processing of claims. Several initiatives are being credited as working to reduce the backlog. Among them is the prioritizing of claims more than a year old and mandating that claims processors work overtime to process claims.
Retro Benefits for First-Time Fully Developed Claims
The VA has now announced another backlog-reducing initiative that should sound great for our newest veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, or any veteran preparing to file a first-time claim for VA disability benefits. This one will pay out up to one year of retroactive disability benefits to veterans who file first-time claims that are completed with all the information the VA requires to make a decision.
A Fully Developed Claim (FDC) is one that includes all evidence that supports the claim. This is information the veteran has or can easily get without involving the VA, which is obligated to gather information for the veteran, such as medical records.
File with Expert Veterans Disability Advocates
It is recommended that veterans get help with their claims from qualified veterans disability advocates, such as the Alpha Veteran’s Disability Advocates, who specialize in helping their clients receive the highest disability ratings to receive the maximum in VA benefits.
“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, Under Secretary for Benefits. “At the same time, it helps reduce the inventory of pending claims by speeding the process.”
Initiative Expected to Further Reduce the Backlog
Very often it’s the hunting down of records and other evidence that takes up the most time. But if a claim includes all the information that’s required, that time is cut in half. The convenience of filing online instead of submitting reams of paperwork, will further streamline the decision-making process, which will further reduce the claims backlog and the wait for benefits.
The retroactive benefits are part of a comprehensive legislative package that was signed into law by President Obama last year and is in effect from August 6, 2013 until August 5, 2015.
VA encourages veterans to work with their disability advocates on their Fully Developed Claim and to file online at the VA web portal eBenefits at www.ebenefits.va.gov.
Contact Alpha Veterans Disability with any questions about how to prepare a Fully Developed Claim or for help in getting started on your VA disability claim.