eBenefits: Still Expanding to Serve you Better

Headshot of author Richard Allen SmithAsk any of the 21.8 million Veterans what they want and they will tell you: access to information when and how they want it. As a Veteran, I know firsthand that simple access to benefits I may qualify for is important for my family and me. And since three out of four Veterans who use VA services want to connect to us online, we’ve been rapidly expanding our joint VA and Department of Defense (DoD) eBenefits self-service online portal since its debut in 2009. As a result, “eBenefits is clearly becoming the platform of choice for Veterans seeking access,” according to Veteran and VA Undersecretary for Benefits Alison Hickey.

As part of our mission to consistently and continually ease the process of obtaining benefits information, VA and DoD have expanded the functionality of eBenefits for the past 11 consecutive quarters. Our latest release brings the total number of self-service features to 46. Those features include email messages to Servicemembers as they reach career milestones, single sign-on capability that allows Vets to use one set of login credentials to access eBenefits, MyHealtheVet, the VA for Vets hiring site, and other online VA tools, the ability to download copies of VA and military correspondence, access to Post-9/11 GI Bill enrollment status, VA payment history, and DoD Tricare health insurance status. There is also a new Career Center page with employment self-assessment tools, a resume builder, and a translator that relates military expertise to civilian work skills.

But by far, the most popular feature within eBenefits is the ability to check the status of compensation and pension claims. This function requires a “premium” account, which previously required an in person visit to a VA regional office or a call to a 1-800 number where Vets also found it was difficult to get through to someone. Now, an account can be upgraded to “premium” status using an online “wizard” feature. In June, the claim status feature alone had over 700,00 visits.

Honestly, I love eBenefits. And I say that as a Veteran, not a VA employee. But don’t take my word for it. In just the last year, use of eBenefits has increase by 60 percent. We’ve signed up 1.65 million registered users and are approaching 2 million visits per month from Veterans and Servicemembers who have found eBenefits to be the quickest, easiest most efficient way to interact with VA.

The eBenefits application is a key component in VA’s ongoing transformation to a digital environment for benefits delivery. We’re not done. We’re going to keep increasing the functionality of eBenefits and adding features to better serve the men and women who have worn our country’s uniform. We want to ensure it is as easy as possible for any Veteran to get information on and apply for benefits. As a Veteran, that’s my number one priority, and eBenefits is the vehicle that is going to get us there.

Richard Allen Smith is a Web Communications Specialist for the Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Richard served on active duty in the United States Army from 2003-2008 and deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division in 2007.

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38 Comments to “eBenefits: Still Expanding to Serve you Better”

  1. Roger Erickson says:

    eBenefits has been nothing further than a ‘hyped-up’ disappointment.
    In May of 2011 I filed for an increase of dependent compensation because of the birth of my child. Being a 100% Service Connected Vet I find it difficult to buy diapers, etc. and I could use the extra hand ‘supposedly’ offered by the VA. I submitted 2 forms of her proof of birth ( at a Naval Hospital) and her Social Security number. What’s more to review, a DNA test?
    For over a year my position has not moved beyond the ‘REVIEW’ status. There’s nothing to review. One representative says it’s just a long wait regardless of your claim . Another phone call gets another opinion that because the VA is concentrating on helping Homeless Vets first all other claims are put aside. Does anyone have one answer and not an opinion?
    Either using the phone or the computer gets NO answer!

    As suggested I log on to eBenefits rather than call the 1-800 number. eBenefits is just another way of getting less people to call.

    • Ray says:

      I get run arounds in person, on the phone and the web sites. You submit every form they ask for only to find out it is wrong. On the phone I get verbal rapid fire run around or no answer. I have spent 6 hours today just trying to find out my disability claim status. The recorded phone message on how they value your service is a joke!

    • Art says:

      Roger,
      Contact a VSO like the DAV. They can make phone calls and get things done for you. I too was upset on how long it was taking for a dependent update and by chance, the VA had a Facebook open house to answer questions. Mine did not get answered that night but a few days later they said that it just takes time. I said to my self “go figure, nothing new.” All of a sudden, the next week, my dependent claim processed. I filed for dependency in June ’11 and an addition for my son on Sept. ’11 and I got mine in March ’12. Like I said though, have a VSO bug them. You need the money. The only good thing is they back pay you to the time of your original claim so it can become a nice check in the end. Good luck!

      • The only good thing was the fat check? I too am 100 percent and I thank God every month I receive my benefit money. You forgot how lucky we all are living in a country that supports us at all, if ya can’t afford dapers,what are ya doing having more kids.

  2. I am fairly new ( this year/ 2012) to the ebenefits & my healthy e vet . Gov websites and I do find the Internet access a time saver and a productive and efficient tool to getting my questions and concerns answered to a satisfactory level.

    I will continue to use and enjoy yet another V A benefit from the comfort and ease of my my own home .

  3. John Buickman says:

    I agee with your efforts and plan and thank you. What is missing, basically is service/information, to and for, Pre 9/11 & non e-mail Veterans. The number of veterans that do not have access to TV, Internet, telephone, newspapers is amazing. Some of the problem is their, previous attitude as much as it is VA’s. Details on this problem and what is being attempted locally are to great for this comment section.

  4. JEFFREY PARSONS says:

    This is not all you say it is my freind; One it took me allmost three month’s to get to e-bennifit’s and once there I have not been able to get at what my appeal’s claim status is. I’ve called all the number’s listed to get help and I have gotten nothing but the run around and transferd from one number to another. If you ask me ! You got some work to do my freind. HAVE A GOOD DAY !!

    • JPARSONS says:

      I recently talked to my VSO and he explained that this was set up give out simple info and for some people with what they call difficult case’s will have a trouble to see anything specific on there claim. That is my problem in this case.E-bn’s say’s there is no info for pending claim’s. WTF , my status is no different than anyone else !!!

    • PJ says:

      I go into ebenefits tonight and find all the info from yesterday is gone ??????? it’s like i was downgraded from premium to basic and then while i am there a little box pops up and asks me if using the site causes me to not call the call center so much or would using the site cause me to call the call center even more ???????? Is that what it is about, the call center don’t want us bothering them ??? Because it’s been my experience that you can’t get the correct information on this site.

  5. David Garno says:

    I am want to find out if I can obtain hearing aids here in Thailand. I previous had some issued by the VA in 2005 when I lived in Florida. I have since moved and now live full time in Thailand.

  6. Robert Martinez says:

    You sound like a great guy. But, you seem to be the exception in this supposed organization meant to “serve our country’s veterans”. I know that I’m in a large company of unsatisfied and un-served veterans and their loved ones that have been waiting and waiting for the help they rightfully deserve. You and your “government” co-workers speak of improvements to make things more efficient. Sorry, but I can’t help but scoff and say, “Whatever”. You know, it might be more humane to just tell Vets and their families to forget about it, that there are no benefits whatsoever, instead of stringing them along. May God help our country’s vets, because no one else will.

  7. Hugh O'Byrne says:

    Several years ago I attempted to obtain an E-benefits account so I could access the VA online. I could not get through the process because they said I was already registered. Well, I am not, I want to be, so how do it do it?

  8. Pauline says:

    Here are the phone numbers for the VA. They have a system that will call you back when it’s your turn in line for the phone call. I hope this helps.

    Department Name(s) Toll Free Number(s)
    VA Benefits:
    Burial
    Death Pension
    Dependency Indemnity Compensation
    Direct Deposit
    Directions to VA Benefits Regional Offices
    Disability Compensation
    Disability Pension
    Education
    Home Loan Guaranty
    Medical Care
    Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
    1-800-827-1000
    Beneficiaries in receipt of Pension Benefits 1-877-294-6380
    Debt Management Center (Collection of Non-Medical Debts) 1-800-827-0648
    Children of Women Vietnam Veterans (CWVV)
    Foreign Medical Program (FMP)
    Spina Bifida Health Care Program
    1-877-345-8179 (or)
    1-888-820-1756
    Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA)
    CHAMPVA In-House Treatment Initiative (CITI)
    1-800-733-8387
    Education (GI Bill) 1-888-442-4551
    Health Care Benefits 1-877-222-8387
    Income Verification and Means Testing 1-800-929-8387
    Life Insurance:
    Service members and/or Veterans Group Life Insurance Program
    All other VA Life Insurance Programs
    1-800-419-1473
    1-800-669-8477
    Mammography Helpline 1-888-492-7844
    CHAMPVA Meds by Mail 1-888-385-0235 (or)
    1-866-229-7389
    Special Issues – Gulf War/Agent Orange/Project Shad/Mustard Agents and
    Lewisite/Ionizing Radiation 1-800-749-8387
    Status of Headstones and Markers 1-800-697-6947
    Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) 1-800-829-4833
    For health care services, contact your nearest VA medical facility. To locate all VA facilities, click on Find a VA Facility.

  9. RC says:

    I am registered with E benefits however, i signed up when it was first established and the status of my one appeal has said in STAGE ONE ever since EBenefits started. How and when do these ebenefits status change? I was told its been overturned and yet nothing has changed on the Ebenefits site to justify this statment. Is this something i should be concerned about or is it just a lack of communication between VA and this site? How do i know what i was told is true, if my Ebenefits status hasnt changed since day one. thank you for your help.

  10. John Rivera says:

    I currently receive 40% disability. I cant work any more because of my disability. How or if can I apply for a higher rating. If someone can help me I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks Please call John Rivera 812 498 4813

    • Richard Allen Smith says:

      John,

      You can apply through VONAPP in eBenefits, or you can contact your local VSO.

  11. br says:

    ebenefits is only good IF and WHEN the RO updates it. Other then that…. its just a pacifier.

  12. William Mathews says:

    I am a Vietnam Vet and I’m the type that if I can do it on the internet I will, I don’t like talking to people, I’m sure some will understand. The way eBenefits is suppose to work would be great, but as it is now it is a joke. I have not been able to do anything on the site, I either get a “data not available call xxx-xxxx” or a blank form. Won’t even let me change anything, plus there is erroneous information. My point is, if the VA is going to have this site then make it work for all, or just get rid of it, don’t play with our minds.

  13. Russell says:

    I have no clue how great eBenefits is… never been able to successfully log in. I’ve called and called and still can’t login months later.

  14. How often is ebenefits updated? Also when i look at the status of my claim, why does it have a claim completion date that is 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 years out? Is this real? do they expect to actually take this long when all the evidence is already supposedly being reviewed or is this just a date that has been put in so nobody will expect an answer within the next 1-2 years?

  15. MEG says:

    I am at over 600 days in the VA claims process (02 Dec 2010) and my initial claim is still not adjudicated. VBA customer service sucks. If the Veterans Benefits Administration were a business, they would be out of business because they have so many unhappy customers. Here are some examples I have personally encountered this past week:

    1. You call the 1-800 number and after going through multiple menus and
    holds, you are offered a call back time for a WEEK later.
    2. You log in to Ebenefits and it tells you very little information and my case has gone back and forth along the timeline over the past 10 months. Most recently, it has sat in the preparation for decision phase for 5 weeks.
    3. You ask a question to Iris.VA.gov and if you request an e-mail reply,
    you may hear back in 5 business days and it is the same vague reply. I sent an IRIS inquiry 5 days ago and guess what? No reply, no answers.
    4. How about I call the VA Regional office in Wichita,
    kS? Oh wait, I cannot call it directly, I have to call the 1-800 number and I already told you how that goes.
    5. How about I contact my VSO with Military Order of the Purple Heart? She checks some VA system she has access to and tells me that VA is “developing for records”. “What the heck does that mean?”, I ask. It will be at least a couple more month before I get a final decision, she says. 600 days is really not that bad and I need to be patient.

    To quote my Senator’s staffer today, “These answers or lack thereof are unacceptable.”

    Is VBA that horribly understaffed? If so, there are thousands of veterans with mad skills that need jobs. My experience in applying for work within the Department of Veteran’s Affairs has been very disappointing. I have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, over 2 decades of expereince and I work with a service dog who performs tasks to mitigate my disabilities. I interview well telephonically and between my education,
    licensure and over 2 decades of nursing experience, I meet the initial qualificications for many VA healthcare and VA benefits jobs. Unfortunately, once the interviewers see me with my service dog at the second interview, I never get called back for a third
    interview or offered a job.

    I have been rated top block as an Army officer and
    exceptionally as a civilian. I want to work and so do a lot of unemployed
    veterans. Instead, I face disability discrimination in my job everyday and in the VA’s
    hiring practices.

    How fair is it that if I need public assistance benefits, I can be receiving those entitlements within…

    • JPARSONS says:

      The VA does hire veteran’s , but if your over qualified that would be the trouble’s of getting hired . Now you can go to the VA HOSPITAL and see all kind’s of veteran’s working such thing’s as a janitor , receptionist ,etc. You are to qualified or it’s because your a vet !!

    • Meg
      600 days is a long time, too long. First,Thank You for your service, I’m proud of you.
      I am a 100 percent connected Vietnam combat Veteran. My claim was submitted July 2010, my finial award letter came last April. VA can process claims faster, just not where you live. I live in CA,I had no problems what so ever, my county vet office did all the work, I just showed up for the interview.

  16. Bill says:

    My claim seemed to move fine. Filed 12/28/11 and got an increase 7/28/12. Followed the workflow on ebenifits and it was much easier than calling. Only called once, 12/28/12 to start the claim. Two times the workflow updated over the weekend. Its got claim status, projections of when the claim will move forward, and what happens in each step. It’s the second time I filed a claim and this one was much better than my first which was pre ebenifits. Hope ebenifits can expand to do more.

  17. Zane says:

    I have a premium acct but when I go to status for claim it says none are available. Why is this? My claim is over a year old.

  18. Rob says:

    I have a claim in the C&P section which I did not file. When I click on the claim, it responds “ERROR: Call…. (the eBenefits help line or the VA 1-800 number)”. To this date, no one (VSO, VA, etc.) can tell me what it’s for….

  19. Charlie says:

    After 2 years I think I have figured out what the monkey wrench is. It is a shame that the R.O. uses the very tools congress passed into law against us. That being their duty to assist. If you listen to all the griping it comes down to this: The R.O. has all the evidence needed but they don’t act on it. My claim in particular has 3 I.M.O.’s and a favorable C&P exam. My medical files are a foot thick.
    My ebenefits says they are waiting on an answer to a request they sent me Sept. 2011. That request was a “notice of response”. I sent it back with the block checked “I have no further evidence” . They admit they have that. The second thing is request for medical records from Salem MHC which is noted as being recieved on Ebenefits. Yet they say next “After we have recieved all evidence as noted in WHAT WE STILL NEED FROM YOU, we will decide your claim. That is the hamster wheel.
    They didn’t have the DBQ’s and FDC 2 years ago. I encourage every one to use these tools, develop your on claim and deprive them of usung the duty to assist as means to scoot your claim under the pile because it looks to complicated.

  20. RC says:

    Richard, i have a question i think you can answer for me.. Ive register with Ebenfits since it started and i had 1appeal that was in stage 1 and never once had it changed. well now it finally has moved forward, i was so excited to see anything change at this point. but the problem is on the site its moved all the way to the ending current status: decision & claims file dispatch:This indicates that BVA mailed the decision to you and your rep. & transferred your case to another location. Please refer to your Appeal detail Screen for further information about the specific location of your case. Ok, so i click on Historical Appeals dated 08/01/12 then details about your BVA appeal received on NO DATE Current Progress: decision & claims file dispatch
    Current Progress description: your case has been received at BVA & BVA has mailed your decision to you & your rep. & will be returning your claims file to the VA Medical center. Please note that transit times vary & there maybe some lag time between when BVA forwards your claims file to its appropriate location. OK here comes the problem, I just got off the phone with the BVA 1-800-923-8387 and spoke to a lady there asking if she knew what location for sure my claim was in and when did BVA send it . She looked up my claim and said the BVA has never had your claim. I was like how can that be, its been there for along time sitting in stage one, then moved all the way to the end saying BVA made there decision. She said i have no clue why they told you it was here because we have never had it, it must still be at the Ro. How in the world can something like this transpire?? ALso on Ebenefits now it shows no appeal. What in the world is going on and have you ever heard of such a thing? thanks your help would be greatly appreciated

  21. spouse of a veteran says:

    Richard, is there a reason that alot of these guest post arent being responded to?? What good are they if nobody responds back to try and help. Just wondering what the point of this is then. Alot of people are asking some of the same questions i have , so it would help me out also. Thanks

  22. RC says:

    Richard, i just got off the phone with someone at Ebenefits and the gentleman was very helpful. I think we figured out the problem with my appeal on ebenefits showing BVA has mailed there decision when BVA has never had a claim for me. Well im on the phone with the regional office as i type ,the reason ebenefits shows BVA it should show VBA thats why when i called the BVA they said they never received anything on my appeal. It was a typing error . The status is correct just the wrong place handling the claim. Im trying to get it corrected now. So hopefully they will correct this typing error. Just wanted to let you know the gentleman on the phone was very helpful to me. I didnt even know there was 2 types of appeals,i just assumed it was at BVA appeal since thats what ebenefits showed.

  23. RC says:

    Richard, Sry just a heads up, i just got off the phone with our regional office inregards to this BVA decidions & claims File Dispatch and the RO said it doesnt matter if it says BVA orVBA. that we should know what we filed. She said, yes the decision has been made and we should be receiving a letter in the mail. I still say that this wording does make a difference to alot of veterans. She said that they probably all just say BVA when there is an appeal. My opinion is why cant they just type the correct location and where the file and decision has come from??. Not all veterans know and understand all the processes that take place, They rely on what they read on the Ebenefits website. Could you please look into this because i think its confusing alot of veterans as to where there appeal even is. There is a huge difference between BVA and VBA, which truthfully i didnt even know. Thats why i keep calling the BVA saying yes you have my claim. Your investigation in this matter would help out alot. Thanks

  24. Daniel says:

    One major flaw with ebenefits is that a person is not able to get the rating percentage of their disability. The site gives a document that posts how much a person’s percentage will pay, but not the actuall number. Many places require the percentage, because the amount of money can be looked up, but the percentage is the golden ticket.
    It used to be nice to email other veterans through ebenefits when that option was available, but since they started all of these new updates many items do not work anymore. For instance right now the site is currently down for maintence, but when I finally am able to login in nothing has changed. Maybe they should notify people what types of changes they are making. Applications for the cell phones have updates and they give a rough explaination of what they are doing for the update which is something ebenefits should try.
    There also needs to be an app for the cell phone like myhealthevet has their own app.

  25. oscar says:

    everytime i check the status of my comm.&penn. ,i get same old feedback”gathering of evidence”. i thought the v a had put more people to process claims faster! it doesn`t seem to be working very well.

  26. Linda says:

    Richard,
    I am recently widowed. My husband was 100% SC. I filed for DIC immediately and was able to see on his e-benefits that all was received, etc. However, since he passed, they closed his account. I called e-benefits and they said it would now be in my account and opened a premium account for me. Well, after all this, I found out that this is not the case. My claim has been in development stage since 4/3/12, his death was related to his SC. Found out it was just assigned to a person on 7/19. 3 different times I was told someone would call me within 10 days (call center referred to supervisor and supervisor referred to super at pension dept.). To date, not one call. I spend half of my life on hold trying to get updates..which are always the same..development stage! Why can’t I access this on e-benefits? Not only did I lose my husband, but all income too. It’s criminal that our government would treat families like this. Just the run-around all the time.