Far and away, the biggest concern I hear from Veterans is the disability backlog. From knowing where to start, to the paperwork and appointments—and then the wait for a decision with care and benefits on the line—the whole process can get frustrating.
It’s an issue decades in the making, and not one with an easy, quick fix. That’s why VA, at the end of last year, implemented a paperless processing systems at 18 regional offices known as the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), which pilots showed cut decision times in half while increasing accuracy. Now VA is in the process of rolling out VBMS to the remaining 38 regional offices by the end of the year.
From the release:
Critical to VA’s transformation is ending the reliance on the outmoded paper-intensive processes which prevent timely and accurate claims processing. VA is deploying technology solutions which improve access, drive automation, reduce variance, and enable faster and more efficient operations to eliminate the backlog.
In other words, the processing system used has not kept up with increased demand, even as VA processes more than 1 million claims each year, and technology is the solution. The backlog grew when barriers to PTSD compensation were removed, along with the consideration of certain illnesses presumptive of Agent Orange exposure—and multiple complex injuries from Iraq and Afghanistan added an unprecedented number of claims. But the long term issues stem from yesterday’s technology not meeting today’s demands. VBMS and other transformation initiatives begin implemented at regional offices across the country aim to take care of that once and for all.