The veterans’ benefits claims backlog has been steadily increasing as more and more troops return from the Iraq and Afghanistan deployment areas. In 2011 when the backlog was totaling nearly 900,000 pending claims, the push for new initiatives was greatest.
In July of this year new processing protocols were implemented, including the segmented processing which allowed the simple claims to be processed faster, and serious disability claims to be to be handled by a highly trained team. The claims backlog is now sitting stagnant at about 600,000 veterans’ benefits cases.
The VA Teams Up with the DoD
The next initiative being implemented to reduce the claims backlog has the Department of Defense (DoD) giving assistance to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The DoD will not only provide additional staff to help in the VA regional offices where disability benefit claims are handled, but also help improve the documentation necessary for a disability claim to be filed.
The DoD has announced that more thorough exit physicals will be required for departing. This may result in improved medical exams that are used to provide evidence of service-connected injuries or conditions that can qualify a veteran for veterans’ disability benefits.
In the past, the DoD has worked closely with the VA on other similar projects designed to help improve the transition from active duty servicemember to veteran. Mental health screenings, transition services, and suicide prevention initiatives are among the projects currently in progress between the departments.
Increasing Staff at VA Offices to Help Process More Claims
The VA currently handles about one million veterans’ disability benefits claims annually. With more troops returning to the U.S. and filing disability claims, the number of incoming claims has surpassed the one million mark – complicating the effort to reduce the backlog.
Even with the new segmented claims processing model, the VA is in need of additional staff to process both simple and complex claims. The DoD is stepping in to provide an undisclosed number of military personnel to be trained to process veterans’ disability claims.
The goal is to provide more thorough medical exit exams which will allow veterans to file their veterans benefit claims with more complete paperwork, thus reducing processing time. With the additional staff, more claims should be able to be handled and help keep the VA on track with their goal of eliminating the claims backlog by 2015.
Assistance When Filing a Claim
The current average wait time for a veterans disability benefits claim is around 125 days. To make sure your veterans’ benefits claim doesn’t get unnecessarily delayed and add to the wait time, a veterans disability benefits attorney in South Florida can help you with the application process. Contact the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group for help with the VA benefits application and process – 1-855-855-8992.