A new online application from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) enables disability compensation claims to be processed faster in a more end-to-end electronic environment, and VA is urging veterans and their Veterans Service Organization (VSO) representatives to make full use of its capabilities to receive speedier decisions and reduce the backlog of claims.
The availability of the joint VA-Department of Defense Web portal eBenefits, which now integrates with the new internal Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) electronic claims processing system, marks a major milestone in VA’s transformation from paper claims records to a fully digital operating environment, one of the keys to VA’s goal to eliminate the disability claims backlog by the end of 2015.
VBMS has now been fielded at all 56 regional offices across the country, ahead of schedule. VA will continue to upgrade and improve VBMS based on user feedback, and add features and tools that make it faster and easier to process claims, officials say. Instead of filling out and mailing paper forms to VA, veterans can now use eBenefits to enter claim information online using a step-by-step, interview-style application, with pre-populated data fields and drop-down menus similar to popular tax preparation software.
By filing electronically, any compensation benefits that are awarded will be effective back to the date the veteran started entering their claim information in eBenefits. From that initial claim establishment date, each veteran has up to a year to gather all necessary records and hit “submit” to preserve their original date of claim.
“There are so many advantages to making this move from paper to digital – for both veterans and VA,” Allison A. Hickey, Under Secretary for Benefits at VA, said in a statement. “Veterans can now file their claims online through eBenefits like they might do their taxes online.”