The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is implementing changes it says will help simplify and speed the process for veterans seeking compensation for disabilities related to their military service. The news comes as the Department is working to cut the large claims backlog it has accumulated.
The agency is facing a backlog of 43,000 claims by retired feds to start getting their pensions. The delay is in part because of the collapse of a major part of the Retirement Systems Modernization program. OPM has reduced the time it takes to process claims by 15 percent over the last six months.
The agency will organize incoming claims into one of three categories based on the difficulty in solving them as part of an effort to increase efficiency. The Veterans Benefits Administration also is seeking other ways to reduce the number of backlogged cases such as new training for employees, said VA’s Allison Hickey, the undersecretary for benefits.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has made strides toward increasing the number of disability claims it can process every year. But new claims from veterans are growing even faster than ever. House legislators are frustrated by the VA’s lack of progress over the years.
All veterans who have waited two years or more for a decision will have their cases decided by next month, the Department of Veterans Affairs told Congress. Half of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s oldest cases already have been removed from the backlog.
The Veterans Affairs Department made it a top priority earlier this year to handle all disability claims from veterans who’ve been waiting two years or longer. The department mostly succeeded in its two-month surge operation, but serious questions linger about the sustainability of the backlog elimination effort.
Tom Romeo, president of MAXIMUS Federal explains how the appeals process works when a healthcare claim is rejected. September 3, 2013
Most workers in the Veterans Benefits Administration will be sidelined in the next few weeks if a shutdown continues. Funding for employees at the National Cemetery Administration will run out in the next few days.
With the partial government shutdown behind them, members of Congress are working on several bills that impact the federal workforce, including a resolution that supports ending the federal pay freeze and a bill that tackles the claims backlog at Veterans Affairs.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says it has made significant strides in targeting its most complicated disability claims toward its most seasoned claims processing staff, but IG audits still find errors in nearly a third of compensation claims processed for Traumatic Brain Injury.