VA says new claims processing model will make difference

The Department of Veterans Affairs Wednesday announced a new model for processing compensation benefits claims at 16 VA regional offices that face a backlog of nearly 1 million claims.

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.

“This new model is a part of our comprehensive plan to eliminate the compensation claims backlog,” said Under Secretary for Benefits, Allison A. Hickey.  “Our redesigned model follows comprehensive planning and testing to ensure we have the right recipe for success.”

The change in methods comes for centers in places such as Huntington, W.Va.; Hartford, Conn.; Portland, Ore. and Houston, Texas. However, in Seattle, th elocution with the largest backlog on the west coast, the new system is not expected until the end of 2013, according to the VA.

The new methods involve 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 “intake processing center,” claims are routed to one of three segmented lanes, such as “express” for veterans with one or two medical conditions, Special Operations which require special handling because of the unique circumstances, including financial hardship; homelessness; serious wounds, injuries or illnesses; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder associated with military sexual trauma; and former prisoner of war status.

Veterans and their Veterans Service Organization representatives are encouraged to provide all the needed evidence along with their application in a “fully developed claim” in order to expedite the process.