Late Breaking News
VA Initiative Aims to Speed Up Compensation Decisions For Older Claims
WASHINGTON, DC—Veterans who have waited one year or longer for a compensation claims decision may see their case accelerated under a new VA initiative.
VA has recently announced it plans to expedite decisions on compensation claims for veterans who have waited one year or longer. Under the new initiative, VA will make provisional decisions on its oldest claims, which VA says will allow these veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly. Veterans will be allowed to submit additional evidence for consideration a full year after the provisional rating, before VA issues a final decision.
“Too many veterans wait too long for a decision, and this has never been acceptable,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a written statement. “That is why we are implementing an aggressive plan to eliminate the backlog in 2015. This initiative is the right thing to do now for veterans who have waited the longest.”
The long wait that veterans have experienced in obtaining compensation has been an issue that has frustrated both lawmakers and veterans’ organizations.
“When these benefits are delayed or unjustly denied, the consequences to veterans and their families can be devastating,” Disabled American Veterans Assistant National Legislative Director Jeffrey Hall told lawmakers earlier this month in written testimony.
VA Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey said in a written statement that “issuing provisional decisions not only provides veterans with applicable benefits much more quickly, but also gives them an additional one-year safety net to submit further evidence should it become available.”
“Our door will remain open and if a veteran has additional evidence, their case will be fast tracked,” she said.
According to VA, If additional evidence submitted leads to an increase, these benefits will be retroactive to the date the claim was initially filed. If no further evidence is received within that year, VBA will inform the veteran that their rating is final.
VA stated that throughout this initiative, it will “continue to prioritize claims for homeless veterans and those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former prisoners of war, Medal of Honor recipients, and veterans filing fully developed claims.”
In addition, claims for wounded troops separating from the military for medical reasons will continue to be handled separately and on a priority basis through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, according to VA.
Responding to the new initiative, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) said in a statement that “while this new approach sounds promising, we will be monitoring it closely to make sure it’s good policy rather than just good PR.”
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