Listen to the chatter in a VA medical center waiting room or scroll our Facebook page, and you’ll get a sense of one of the biggest issues affecting Veterans: the disability claims backlog. The problem did not begin overnight, and as a result, the solutions won’t arrive that quickly either. But VA took another step to square away the backlog once and for all.
“We have been working with VA since last December on its fully developed claims process,” [American Legion National Commander] Koutz said. “Teams of our experts have already gone to VA regional offices in Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and other cities to help identify best practices for FDCs, and to further train our own service officers.”
FDCs—claims with all the necessary evidence that can be processed in half the time of normal claims, with better accuracy—are a key part of the solution. A great deal of time spent on a claim is simply waiting for evidence to be submitted and collected. FDCs strip away that antiquated method in order to reach claims decisions much faster.
The Legion and DAV have keyed on a vital aspect of their relationship with VA. Their members are a sounding board for issues affecting Veterans, and their policy experts can channel their experiences into strong, common sense solutions that VA can implement. The two-way communication also helps us to amplify our initiatives to VSO members—which has always been a challenge. So if you know someone about to file a claim, have them look into FDCs along with a Legion or DAV representative, often found right in a VA medical center.
This partnership is just one of the ways VA is tackling the issue. In recent weeks, mandatory overtime has gone into effect for 10,000 claims raters in the agency through the fiscal year, along with a decision to assign provisional ratings to claims older than a year to get Veterans their benefits more quickly.
Photo courtesy of American Legion.