Stan Spangle Sr.: Veterans Affairs draws flack over claims backlog
I want to thank everyone who bravely faced the almost perfect weather last Saturday to turn out for our quarterly veterans get-together. We had a tasty lunch and discussed Veterans Affairs events and news. Unless something comes up to change the date, our next quarterly get-together will be July 6.
Reminder: The fund drive is still ongoing for The Field of Honor. Also bricks and pavers for the memorial walkway are available. This would be a good place to spend some of your tax refund.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee, chaired by Congressman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., recently held a hearing to listen to Allison Hickey, the Department of Veterans Affairs undersecretary for benefits, explain why the VA’s claims backlog has continued to expand. Miller called for Hickey’s resignation at one point during the meeting. This is just after a Time Magazine writer called for the resignation of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.
Miller commented during the hearing, “When you have so many men and women that are waiting years to see their claims adjudicated, there is a problem and it’s somewhere within the VA. And the president needs to take a personal interest.”
As my newsletter from The Enlisted Association (TREA) reported recently, Hickey made it very clear that she intends for the VA to eliminate the backlog by the end 2015 (that’s over 21⁄2 years from now) by building a digital disability claims system. She urged veterans to use eBenefits to help clear up the backlog.
The TREA newsletter gives us a capsule explanation of eBenefits and two other claims forms that can be used by veterans. eBenefits is a joint VA-DoD client services portal with over 45 options that allows users to file claims online in an easy-to-use prompt-based system. The system allows veterans to upload supporting claims information into the VA’s paperless claims process, check the status of claims or appeals, review payment history, obtain military documents and perform other benefit actions.
Also, Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQ) are designed to capture needed medical information relevant to a specific condition and give veterans the option of having their private physician provide this information to the VA, minimizing the need for a VA exam. More than 70 DBQs are available today for use by private medical physicians.
Additionally, Fully Developed Claims (FDC) identify the claim-specific information and evidence needed to substantiate a claim at the time of application, and allow veterans to certify that there is nothing further to give to the VA regarding the claim, and preventing the VA from undertaking a lengthy search for any missing information or evidence. Veterans and survivors who are able to do so, should submit as much evidence as they can at the time they submit their claims. Doing so allows the VA to work claims much faster, thereby meaning veterans and-or survivors get accurate decisions quicker.
Pray for the families of the fallen.
Stan Spangle Sr. is a 21-year veteran of the Marine Corps, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He’s a member of numerous veterans organizations. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.