President Obama has proposed a nearly $164 billion VA budget, which is a 6.5 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2014. It’s intended to improve healthcare, end veteran homelessness and eliminate the backlog of disability claims.
The proposal includes $68.4 billion in discretionary spending (mostly for healthcare) including $3.1 billion in medical care collections from copayments and health insurers. It also includes $95.6 billion for mandatory programs, such as pensions and disability compensation.
One of the highlights of the proposed budget focuses on healthcare, with major spending geared toward the following:
- $561 million for spinal cord injuries;
- $238 million for readjustment counseling;
- $229 million for traumatic brain injuries;
- $7.2 billion for mental health;
- $7.0 million for long-term care; and
- $2.6 billion for prosthetics.
Another highlight of the proposal is to assist the VA in reaching its 2015 goals to eliminate all backlogged disability claims. And be able to process claims (with 98 percent accuracy) within 125 days.
Of the proposed budget, $312 million would be spent on technology to reduce the backlog. This includes $139 million toward the Veterans Intake Program (VCIP), which is working toward converting paper records into electronic data and images. And $173 million toward the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), the next generation of electronic claims processing.
Veterans can face numerous challenges when applying for disability benefits. One of the biggest is a delay in receiving an answer. Although it can’t always be avoided, there are ways to at least reduce the chance of an unnecessary setback.
For instance, having all of the paperwork filled out correctly and submitted on time. Or ensuring that all relevant documentation is attached. For assistance with filing an initial claim or appealing one that has been denied, contact the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group by calling 855-855-8992.