Posts Tagged ‘Department of Veterans Affairs’

New Veterans Disability Claims May Be Eligible for Fast-Track Processing

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

In late 2011 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began a 15-month trial of a pilot program designed to expedite fully developed veterans disability claims. The pilot program, known as the Acceptable Clinical Evidence (ACE) program, is the VA’s latest initiative to reduce the disability claim backlog.

The ACE program combines the resources of the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration to promote instant sharing of records. The two administrations work together to evaluate a claim for completeness in regards to medical records.

The ACE Process

During the ACE process, a Veterans Affairs medical provider uses the disabled veteran’s existing medical records to complete a disability questionnaire. If necessary, a telephone interview with the disabled veteran is conducted to fill in any missing medical information. If the medical provider can gather enough evidence through medical records and interviews, the disabled veteran may be eligible to forgo the in-person medical evaluation, saving time, travel, and stress.

Officials from the VA are confident that the ACE program will help, “expedite the determination of disability ratings in turn eliminating the wait time to schedule and conduct an exam from the claims process.” The pilot test at one regional VA office found that 38 percent of all incoming claims were eligible for evaluation through the ACE program.

Medical evidence and military records are the two most important parts of a veteran’s disability claim application. Errors or omissions in these forms of documentation can lead to delays or unfair denials of veterans’ disability benefit claims.

If a disabled veteran or family member of a wounded warrior needs assistance navigating the veterans’ disability claims process, the Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. can help. Contact our veteran’s disability rights firm today 1-888-234-5758.

VA and Defense Department at Odds on Integrated Health Records

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense Department (DoD) are slated to merge their health record systems by 2017, but negotiations are hitting road blocks.

The most recent developments in the struggle for medical record integration came late February when DoD officials rejected adopting the VA’s VISTA health record system, according to Stars and Stripes. The VA has been using VISTA for years, but some argue that the system may be outdated and not as adaptable as other systems under consideration.

One thing that both departments do seem to agree on is that veterans and doctors should be able to share the same medical records no matter what system is employed. The goal is still to create a single health record system to improve communication between the departments’ health facilities.

Urgency for this measure comes from the backlog of veterans’ disability claims that have suffered from delays in communication of medical records. When the VA has to pull medical records from the DoD, it creates extra steps in the approval process that can add unnecessary time to the completion of a claim.

Officials have promised that by the end of 2013 one of the major steps to the seamless health record system will be completed. At year’s end the basic sharing of health records and a common method of displaying records will be developed and implemented. A major decision on which computer system to approve will come by the end of March.

Medical records are one of the most important parts of a veterans disability claim and incomplete records may result in unnecessary claim delays. The veterans’ disability claim team at The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. is ready to help disabled veterans  apply for benefits and help through the process. Contact our disability rights firm today 1-888-234-5758.

VA Launches New Phase of Innovation Initiative to Benefit Veterans

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently launched a new phase of its VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2). The new program, the VA Center for Innovation (VACI), will continue to build upon the success of VAi2 by reaffirming the VA’s commitment to innovators in the veterans’ services field.

The program integrates companies and organizations from government and private sectors to develop new technologies, procedures, and solutions focused on improving benefits to veterans.

VAi2, which has been in operation since 2010, built a 120-project portfolio containing initiatives for improving the accessibility and quality of services and care available to veterans. The VA Center for Innovation seeks to continue building this portfolio, starting with 13 new awards to partners across the U.S.

The VACI’s recent awards focus on the Blue Button medical record program, teleaudiology, prosthetic socket redesign for amputees, and automation of the sterilization process for reusable medical instruments. Research in these areas is of specific interest to disabled veterans who may suffer from hearing disabilities or lost limbs.

As more innovations in medical care and electronic record keeping are made, disabled veterans are entitled to benefit from these improvements. By applying for veterans’ disability benefits, a claimant may secure monetary benefits for disabling conditions, and veterans may benefit from enhanced care and opportunities to participate in medical trials through VA hospitals and clinics.

The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. can help you develop a claim for veterans’ disability benefits. If you have questions about veterans’ disability benefits, request a FREE copy of our eBook, Don’t Panic: Win Your VA Disability Claim. When you’re ready, contact us today at 888-234-5758 to discuss your case with one of our claims representatives.

VA Secretary Reinforces Department Goals on Veterans Day 2012

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

In the Veterans Day 2012 message from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Secretary Eric K. Shinseki reminded the country of his department’s commitment to continued improvement of veterans services.

The November 9 press release commended the millions of veterans who have served our country and reminded them that our nation is committed to supporting them in several capacities. He focused on the more than 1.5 million veterans who have served in the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Horn of Africa combat theaters in the past 11 years and reminded them of the veterans services to which they are entitled through the Department of Veterans Affairs as they return home.

In his Veterans Day 2012 message, Secretary Shinseki highlighted the innovations the Department of Veterans Affairs has made in the past years to bring in 21st century technology to help assist disabled veterans with combat-related injuries. He summarized the VA’s continued goals:

  • increase access to benefits and services available through the VA;
  • eliminate the veterans disability compensation claims backlog by 2015; and
  • end homelessness among veterans by 2015.

Secretary Shinseki attributed the achievements made by the Department of Veterans Affairs to the dedication of the VA staff. The employees who serve in the regional and branch offices, as well as the administration at the main VA centers, are among those who help provide veterans services to all veterans and their families.

Veterans disability attorneys are also here to support veterans struggling with disabling conditions related to their military service. Millions of disabled veterans may be eligible to file for veterans disability benefits, a process that may be made easier when working with an attorney.

If you are a disabled veteran whose application for disability compensation has been denied or you have not yet applied for veterans disability benefits, a disability attorney from South Florida-based LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To discuss eligibility for certain programs and benefits through the VA, contact our veteran’s disability rights firm today 1-888-234-5758.

19 VA Hospitals Named Top Performers by Joint Commission

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Nineteen VA hospitals across the U.S. are standing out amongst the 152 VA facilities as top performers according to a recent review by The Joint Commission. Veterans, including disabled veterans receiving disabled veterans benefits, may obtain health care for disabling conditions at these or other VA medical facilities. All of the 152 VA medical facilities are accredited by The Joint Commission.

The Joint Commission is a non-profit organization that independently reviews and accredits health care organizations and programs across the U.S. It reviews VA hospitals and helps the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) keep up to speed on the quality of care.

The 19 VA hospitals recognized by The Joint Commission are those that performed best in the Commission’s review of care processes associated with positive patient outcomes. With millions of veterans in the United States eligible for health care through these centers, it is important that improvements continue to be made to support the growing veteran population.

The Department of Veterans Affairs strives to continue to improve its health care system by implementing the latest medical procedures and administrative measures. The VA Undersecretary for Health, Dr. Robert Petzel, said in a statement, “VA health care has been a leader in performance measurement, electronic health records, research and clinical quality for more than a decade.” These 19 VA hospitals support that claim, with eight of them now recipients of the top performer award in consecutive years.

Veterans disability benefits can help disabled veterans establish a better connection to their local VA hospitals to make sure they are obtaining the care and support they deserve. When you apply for veterans disability benefits, work with a South Florida disability attorney to make sure you are getting the full disability compensation to which you are entitled.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veteran’s disability rights firm today 1-888-234-5758.

VA Partners with Entertainment Industry for Veteran Health Video

Friday, September 28th, 2012

A video produced through collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) hopes to serve as a resource for entertainers portraying veterans suffering from mental health problems.

The recently released Picture This: Veteran Mental Health Challenges and Solutions was produced as a guide for writers, actors, and others in the entertainment industry. It aims to promote more accurate portrayals of the challenges and realities of veterans with mental health issues.

The stories of several disabled veterans and their families, such as some featured in the Make the Connection public outreach campaign, are referenced in Picture This. The video offers explanations of some of the applicable terminology regarding symptoms, treatments, and the conditions themselves. It also provides some background information about veterans.

The VA hopes that this guide will provide a valuable resource for the entertainment industry when artists strive to tell stories related to veterans and mental health issues. The VA press release notes that, “Picture This supports the creative process and is organized to address the needs of those developing entertaining story lines and characters that greatly impact societal perceptions.”

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veteran’s disability rights firm today  1-888-234-5758.

Department of Veterans’ Affairs Promotes Full Claims Development to Help Disabled Veterans

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

On Tuesday, July 31, during a workshop for Veterans Service Organizations, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) emphasized the importance of the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) initiative.

The initiative is designed to encourage veterans and those that assist them with VA disability claims to strive to submit a FDC to help reduce the backlog of disability claims the VA is currently dealing with. According to CBSNews, over 500,000 claims are awaiting decisions, which can take an average of 254 days to reach.

The VA considers a veterans’ disability claim to be fully developed when it includes all available supporting evidence, especially private and federal treatment records. These records can often take the VA up to 175 days to obtain, while the veteran themselves or their veterans’ disability attorney can often gather them much faster.

During the workshop, the VA encouraged Veterans Service Organizations to promote the submission of more FDCs. Currently, only about three percent of the claims filed with the VA are FDCs, which can process in about 110 days.

Veterans Service Organizations have outreach programs across the nation, but one of the best local resources for disabled veterans is still their area veterans’ disability attorneys.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veteran’s disability rights firm today  1-888-234-5758.

Veterans’ Mental Health: Recruitment Helping Fill 1,900 VA Positions

Friday, June 15th, 2012

According to Veterans News Now, earlier this year Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced that the VA will be hiring 1,600 mental health clinicians and 300 support staff in an effort to improve mental health care at hospitals and clinics across the U.S. To help reach this goal, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has developed a rapid recruitment program to fill these jobs.

The VHA is targeting their efforts in the regions where the need for mental health care is the most critical as in more rural regions. Using professional recruiters, who are themselves veterans, will ensure that those hired are adequately meeting the needs of veterans. Coupled with an aggressive marketing campaign, the VA anticipates they can complete the majority of hires within six months. More complex positions will be covered by the fall of 2013.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been struggling with low staff numbers in their mental health service clinics and departments at VA hospitals. Despite new remote counseling services that the Telehealth system is providing to veterans unable to travel for care, many disabled veterans struggle alone with their anxiety and emotional disorders.

With the increased mental health professionals on staff, there will hopefully be more resources available to serve veterans who suffer from mental conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, qualifying them for veterans’ disability. The VA’s goal is not just to meet current demands but also to anticipate what future disabled veterans will need.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veteran’s disability rights firm today 1-888-234-5758.

Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans Surge May Cause Strain VA Disability Services

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

With the continuing troop withdrawal from the Middle East, more veterans are returning to the U.S. every day. Once a soldier is honorably discharged, they may take advantage of several veterans’ affairs services and programs, including many run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Analysts are now predicting that with 91,000 troops still overseas and 23,000 returning to the U.S. by the end of the summer these veterans services may begin to see a strain on their resources. Even with the proposed $140 billion budget for 2013, the VA has cause for concern during the next couple years as the remainder of troops makes the transition from soldier to veteran.

Last year, the VA was responsible for specialty mental health services for 1.3 million veterans, and the overall medical costs are currently estimated at $53 billion. The VA is one of the main resources for disabled veterans who are seeking financial benefits and health care resources to manage combat-related disabilities.

Veterans who suffer from a service-connected disability should act quickly to begin their veterans’ disability benefits claim. The sooner a claim is filed with the help of a disability attorney the quicker a disabled veteran can establish their placement

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veteran’s disability rights firm today  1-888-234-5758.

Veterans Disability Claims: 3 Improvements, 4 Methods to Help Eliminate Backlog

Friday, May 4th, 2012

In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) created a goal of processing all new veterans’ disability claims within 125 days of filing with a 98% accuracy rate by 2015. The past 4 years, with a backlog of claims reaching over 800,000, there has been progress but a long road ahead.

The major points of the VA’s plan for claim processing improvements already in place are:

  • The claims transformation initiatives program, currently running at 4 pilot programs and expected to be put into full action at 12 additional regional offices by the end of 2012.
  • Quality Review Teams, composed of local quality review specialists who evaluate regional office employees and processes.
  • Simplified and Standardized Rating Notification Letters, giving veterans a single, simple decision letter regarding their disability claim with a summary of the evidence considered and reasoning for their decision.

The claims transformation initiatives will be using several methods to target many aspects of the disability claims process where errors and delays are most often seen. Some of the methods used include:

  • A central Intake Processing Center - sorts claim documentation in a triage system;
  • Segmented Processing Lanes – to fast-track critical claims for faster decisions;
  • Cross-Functional Teams – to better manage claims by eliminating the need for reworking claims; and
  • The Veterans Benefits Management System – to electronically access and store claimant documents.

As more regional offices begin to use the new systems and practices it’s hoped that veterans will see improvements in the lengthy wait times many experience while applying for veterans’ disability benefits. While the new systems slowly begin to help, a disabled veteran can find claim support now through the services of a veterans’ disability attorney.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veteran’s disability rights firm today  1-888-234-5758.