Innovative Pilot Program Helping Veterans Get Benefits Faster

FDC_Claims_Cork_BoardEarlier this month, Dr. Steven Poe received a “challenge coin” for his leadership in the Compensation and Pension Program (C&P) from VA Deputy Secretary Sloan D. Gibson. As grateful as he was for the gesture, Dr. Poe knows the best evidence of his program’s success is the Veterans it has helped.

He and his team of dedicated employees at the Bay Pines VA Health Care System proudly point to a letter from a Veteran, crediting the office’s Fully Developed Claim Pilot Program—implemented in 2013—with turning his life around.

“I stayed downtown because twice a day on weekdays I could get a free meal.” the Veteran wrote. “In order to eat on weekends, I had to depend on the transportation money I received from the VA of $4.50 a day.”

He went on to relate how the Disabled American Veterans convinced him to file an application with the pilot program and how an employee scheduled him for a C&P examination the following week. Within six weeks his disability rating was raised from 30 percent to 100 percent, permanent and total. As a result, his life has improved dramatically.

letter“Today I have my own apartment and I have a stable income,” the Veteran wrote. “I owe all of this to the Fully Developed Claim Pilot Program.”

Dr. Poe and his staff collaborated with the Veterans Benefits Administration’s St. Petersburg Regional Office and local veterans service organizations (VSOs) to set up a Fully Developed Claims (FDC) office on the medical center campus. The team also worked to ensure that veterans service representatives knew how to assist Veterans in speeding up the claims process.

This enables educated Veterans to bring any evidence they have directly to the medical center, where VBA representatives will review their claims to determine if they are eligible to participate in the FDC program. Eligible Veterans are the referred directly to the nearby C&P clinic, which scheduled their examinations for the next available appointment—sometimes on the same day.

On average, the Veterans who participate in this program have their disability examination completed, on average, in five days or less. These Veterans, on average, receive a disability rating in less than 48 days, compared to the national average of almost 200 days. Moreover, these exams have consistently been determined by VBA to be almost 100 percent accurate upon submission.

“This is why we do what we do!” said Dr. Poe. “It’s an awesome feeling to know that what we do each day to help Veterans truly makes a difference. We try to keep this story in mind, each and every time we interact with a Veteran, because one appointment really can change a life.”

More information on the Bay Pines C&P department’s collaboration with the St. Petersburg VA Regional Office in the medical center’s annual report on page 6/13. The article is titled “Speeding up the disability claims process.”

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Dan Bruneau is managing editor for CommSite, VHA’s intranet site for public affairs officers and communicators in VHA. During a 19-year VA career, he previously served as director of communications management in the VHA office of communications and director of communications for the office of research and development. Earlier in his career, he spent 14 years as a newspaper reporter and editor in Wisconsin and North Carolina.

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16 Comments to “Innovative Pilot Program Helping Veterans Get Benefits Faster”

  1. why was i dined a claim for ptsd-mst they had all evendence. just pussed it through so they can make their monthly quota. at least that vet got a hand out from the va

    • john smith says:

      i am a viet nam veteran, i had become disable in 2006,had recieved compensation and pension from 2006 to 2009, then the VA said i was not qualify,so they have been deducting $326.00 from my social security , i suffer from PTSD,degenerative joint disease,prostate disease, COPD and about 6 more others diseases, my i am being treated so badly by my VA,sometimes its hard to go on help me

  2. Juan says:

    Am I to late for filing FDC? I filed for IU on 11/2012 I had denial decision on 12/2013 VA doesn’t have my OPM decision stated that I’m not able to work anymore due to my service connected disabilities, also SSA award me disability due to my service connected disabilities.

    • Edward F. McCourt says:

      I was always told I couldn’t have both SSA and Disability Rating from the VA. What’s the truth?

      • Yvonne Levardi says:

        Edward,

        There shouldn’t be a conflict – SSA and VA are separate agencies. ssa.gov/veterans can give you more info on this topic.

      • Juan says:

        Yes you can apply for SSA if you are award with VA disability, but you have to be at least 6 month or more unemployed due to your service connected disability and also the amount of your SSA depend on how much you are receiving from the VA.

  3. Jame J Cianteo says:

    I HAVE HAD TWO CLAIMS ON APPEAL since 2007 and all I get is we are working on it or they are in DC waiting for review. Then they tell me that it takes at least 556 days to complete and appeal. Well, they were not even listing to what I said. Then I remind them I said its been almost 8 years now and this conversation took place last Friday, April 2014 and every month before that back to 2007. And you tell me by the statement this guys claim went through in six weeks. I do beleive this is an un true story to ease the killing of my brothers. The “ole” saying “deny, deny until they die” fits this situation very well. And just last week I was told after over 37 years that I have been suffering from “agent orange” By the way I need to file a new claim for “Agent Orange” to add to me other crippling medical problems.

  4. Jason Medeiros says:

    This all sounds well and good, but I filed for a C&P claim and it has been over 800 days it was filed on paper and in the new electronic filing program. I have an over 60 percent recommendation from a doctor for ptsd and I need a hearing aid in my left ear. I had to schedule myself because the snail mail system made me miss my appointments during a time we were fighting to keep our home and had to sell. Semper Fi. Hope it works for you to save your job because that’s all your posting this for. To save your job. We are out of a home and had to live with my inlaws. It’s not bad. I ve had worse but you make it sound like you invented this when it took many years and many good people to finally get loud enough in your highly educated ear.

  5. I am truely glad to here about your new speedy program. But i have been weighting for going four going five years and counting still no ansure so when i call thay just tell me your in the system help!!

  6. GLAD TO HERE THING ARE IMPROVEING WHAT ABOUT ME I HAVE BEEN WEIGHTING FOUR YEARS PLUS I NEED HELP

  7. i am glad that the porgram has improve can some one help me i have been wateing almost five years for a ansure

  8. Tim says:

    What is not shown here is that if you have received your medical care from a non-VA provider is that most will refuse to fill out the FDC claim form or will charge you $200 – $300 to fill it out and your insurance will not pay this fee. We have all seen the recent unveiling of Vets not getting access to VA doctors so how will this help the majority of Vets to file claims? This whole program is an effort by VA C&P to push their work onto the Vet. This process is a disgusting bureaucratic maneuver to make filing claims more difficult and to have an “excuse” when they take years to process a regular claim.

  9. Mike Jarrett says:

    Dear Edward, YES you can get both at the same time, I do at present. Good Luck.
    Dear Darrell, I am sorry to hear that you were denied and wish you the best in the future.
    But I do need to say that I find it quite rude of you to assume that the veteran in this story was “given a handout” by the VA. It seems like maybe when things don’t go your way and you hear that it does for another veteran that you speak badly of others instead of working with your vet rep to help you to get your claim approved.

  10. Bradley says:

    Is Obama’s plan to filter out as many vets from benefits. My wife is to foot my bill for Va Benefits. I was unemployed yet they want my wife to pay for my benefits. I hope someone shoots that Niger in the head.

  11. sharon says:

    My husband submitted his complete packet in the form recommended by our VA rep in Aug 2013. He retired 31 December after 30 years of service. He just checked on e-benefits which said his expected date of processing claim is May-October 2015!!! How can this length of time be in any way acceptable for any soldier?

  12. Joseph says:

    My heart goes out to all my fellow Vets. I wasn’t diagnosed with prostate cancer even though the VA was my primary care provider since 1997. In 2014 I was having urinary problems and they finally gave me a PSA test. (PSA , 68) The prostate cancer metastasized to my bones and my diagnosis was Stage IV prostate cancer, inoperable and fatal. Since then I’ve been going to civilian doctors and they are helping to some degree. The VA issued me a Death Sentence because some bureaucrat decided I didn’t need a PSA test even though it’s documented and I’m receiving disability for Agent Orange. The moral of my story, if you can afford it or you have insurance go to a civilian doctor! But, you better do it quick because if Obamacare isn’t repealed everyone seeing a doctor in the United States of America will get the same treatment Vets are now getting from the VA.