Early this year, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) began extracting hundreds of thousands of inactive-claim records from regional offices east of the Mississippi for digital conversion. Inactive-claim records are claim files that have been settled and have remained inactive for a number of years. The initiative will help reduce processing time for thousands of new claims associated with inactive records.
In the past, VBA only digitized inactive-claim records when Veterans or their family members filed new disability or Dependency Indemnity Compensation claims. The business process added days to the claims’ adjudication process as files still needed to be boxed, shipped and digitized before review of the new claim could even begin.
“The initiative will essentially eliminate adjudication delays caused by shipping and digital conversion,” said Bradley Houston, director of the Office of Business Process Integration, which oversees the initiative. It will allow claims processors and accredited representatives, nationwide, the ability to instantly review millions of inactive-claim records like never before.
Thus far, VBA successfully extracted more than 310,000 inactive compensation, pension, notice of death, and vocational rehabilitation and employment files from the Philadelphia, Detroit, Indianapolis and Roanoke regional offices.
Though much progress has already been made into digitizing inactive-claim records, more work still needs to be done. VBA currently houses an estimated 2 million claims-related documents in 34 locations across the country and is currently extracting over 170,000 claim records for digital conversion from the St. Petersburg regional office.
“The agency plans to extract the remaining claim records from regional offices across the country by the end of 2018,” Houston said. Once the records have been digitized, VBA will archive and store them for safe keeping.
Over the past five years, VBA has made concerted efforts into modernizing the way it processes compensation and pension claims. Since 2012, 387 million documents (consisting of 2.5 billion images) have been scanned, indexed and uploaded into Veterans Benefits Management System – the agency’s electronic claims processing system. Gone are the images of VA cubicles stacked with paper claims, infamously shared by the press and late-night talk show hosts back in 2013.
Digital conversion of inactive records is just one of the many ways VA is striving to put the needs, expectations and interests of Veterans and their families first.