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VA says new tool will help clear disability claims backlog

The Department of Veterans Affairs is on its way to fixing its disability claims backlog, according to the department’s top official.


The Department of Veterans Affairs is on its way to fixing its disability claims backlog, according to the department’s top official.

VA secretary Eric Shinseki Shinseki said the department aims to use a newly developed automated system to make sure no claim goes over 125 days, according to the American Forces Press Service. For the past two years, VA has been developing the tool to help VA claims staff complete claims determinations faster and more accurately, he said.

VA has been testing its new Veterans Benefit Management System in Providence, R.I., and Salt Lake City, according to the April 2 AFPS news release. Following an assessment of the test implementations, the department plans to begin rolling out the system at 16 regional offices in September. Shinseki said all 56 VA regional offices should have the system by the end of fiscal 2013.

Over the last few years, the number of new claims VA receives each year has been rising even as the department improves its processing, the report noted. According to the release, VA processed 900,000 claims decisions in 2009, but received 1 million new claims during the year. In 2010, VA completed 1 million decisions, but received 1.2 million new claims. In 2011, the department completed another 1 million claims, bur received 1.3 million more.

Shinseki said lessons learned from applying automation in the processing of Post-9/11 GI Bill claims have been “tremendously important” in helping to guide VA’s disability claims automation efforts. As it developed the automation tool, VA also has made other improvements in its process, such as helping vets gather information for their claims, and improving communications among various entities that process the claim to reduce delays, according to AFPS.

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