Posts Tagged ‘veterans disability claims’

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.

 

Veterans Disability Claim – Speeding Up the Process with Digital Documents

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

A partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration will soon help the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in their initiative to digitalize veterans’ disability benefit claims.

The backlog of disability claims has been causing continued concern for the VA since the estimates of claims pending numbered in the 800,000s the first quarter of 2012. The push for a paperless, online claims system has resulted in veterans being able to file new claims online, but did little to help the thousands of disabled veterans whose paper claims are still in queue.

By working with the National Archives, the VA hopes to use their high quality scanning system to transfer the billions of pages that make up the current claim backlog into the electronic Veterans Benefits Management System implemented earlier this year.

Having all of your disability claim paperwork in one easily accessable file is important for both organization and expedition of your claim. The better assembled and documented your claim is, the faster it can be processed by the VA so you can avoid errors that may jeopardize your benefits and result in a wrongful denial.

At LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. our disability law firm has already taken the digital leap into paperless disability claim processing. Our customized database system has allowed our firm to develop a digital client record system that allows attorneys to access a client’s complete disability claim and supporting documents with a few clicks of their mouse.

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: VA Striving to Clear Confusing Language in Claims

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Many disabled veterans who struggle with the disability claims process blame some of their frustrations on the confusing terms used in the forms and correspondence with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

In 2010, the Plain Writing Act was passed to promote simplification and clarity in official governmental publications. Everything from bills to brochures is now being evaluated before being put forth to the public eye.

For decades those who write the laws and government correspondence have used antiquated, often confusing terms that can make reading an official document much more difficult for those who do not handle these letters on a regular basis. Terms like “shall” or “no-cost” can be ambiguous or confusing, while others like “hence forth” are words of the past.

Making changes to a terminology system that has been in use for decades is a huge challenge that can take years to fully become effective. In the meantime, a veterans’ disability attorney can help you interpret the documentation involved in your veterans’ disability benefits claim and make sure you understand everything related to your case before you take action.

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: New Initiative Shows Success for Processing Time and Accuracy

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

In early 2012, a transformational plan was piloted at 4 regional Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offices. With the success of this trial, the VA has selected 12 more regional offices to implement the new plan by the end of the year. If successful, the transformational plan will be put to use at the remaining 40 regional offices throughout 2013.

The basis of the transformational plan is a 3-fold system involving people, processes, and technology enhancements. There were more than 40 measures tested and evaluated for this plan with a goal of reducing the backlog of claims.

In 2009, the VA had issued a objective for their department to achieve 98% accuracy on claims and resolve each one in less than 125 days – all by the year 2015. So far their efforts are paying off with measures, such as quality review teams and simplified rating letters. Other measures in the works include a formalized process for sorting documents by priority, new electronic claims processing systems, and segmenting types of claims to be funneled to the most appropriate teams.

While the VA has been working diligently on their side to improve efficiency and accuracy, a veteran filing disability benefits for the first time can also help speed their claim along on their own by working with a veterans’ disability attorney to prepare your forms so you can avoid some of the delays or denials that come from inaccurate or incomplete information.

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.

Waiting for Veterans Disability Benefits? How 68 New Forms May Speed Up Process

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

There have been an additional 68 forms added to the veterans’ disability application process that are expected to help decrease the evaluation time for new disability claims.

These new disability benefits questionnaires are reports of specific medical details that can help give accurate and targeted evidence regarding a veteran’s disabling conditions. With more standardized, easily processed records the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hopes to speed up the evaluation process and decrease the current claims backlog.

With the addition of these new forms, 71 documents may now be necessary to show medical proof for a veterans’ disability claim, depending on the claimant’s medical conditions. These forms may be filled out by a veterans’ private physician or a VA health provider, but the costs of private physician’s services for the exam and forms will not be covered by the VA.

The amount of paperwork involved in a disability rating for veterans’ disability benefits can be overwhelming. A single error in your documentation could delay your claim approval for months, or even result in a wrongful denial. Working with a professional veteran’s disability attorney can help you avoid the risk of losing out on compensation that you need to medically cover you.

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.

Lack of Evidence Delays Veterans Disability Benefits for Sexual Trauma

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Navy Seaman Katherine Glover experienced sexual trauma during her service at a NATO base in Italy in 1985. It took her 17 years of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before she finally told a representative at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) about her experience. The VA rep helped get Glover into treatment and began the process of applying for veterans disability benefits.

However, due to her lack of evidence of the service connection to her condition, caused repeated denials. It wasn’t until her case was examined using revised guidelines for sexual trauma that she finally won the retroactive and ongoing disability benefits she was entitled to. She will receive retroactive benefits of $150,000 dating back to her initial disability application in 2006 and then the monthly stipend, of $2,800, thereafter.

Any disabled veteran may run into a similar situation when they don’t have the ability to provide the medical and official evidence connecting their disabling condition to their military service. In Glover’s case it was due to lack of an incident report at the time of the assault, but veterans may also lack proof that they served in an area exposed to toxic materials, or that they served in an area at all.

The veterans disability benefit claims process isn’t always as simple as showing medical evidence and your discharge papers. There are many factors taken into consideration when making a disability determination, which is why it’s best to work with an experienced veteran’s disability attorney from the start to avoid unnecessary delays in your claim approval.

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 Cause 20% Budget Increase Request

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

In 2012, the number of claims submitted for veterans’ disability benefits is estimated to reach 1.2 million, and analysts expect that to rise to 1.25 or even 1.3 million in 2013. This increase also comes with additional challenges to those who process the disability claims because many new claims are becoming more complex with a flood of disabilities, which can result in higher per-veteran costs.

This is a big reason why the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requested a 20% budget increase for 2013 that would bring in an additional $10.5 billion to increase the funds to $61.7 billion. This will help finance the current disability pay for veterans, which is an average of $11,737 annually.

With the budget increase and the nature of disability claims becoming more frequent and complex the VA is preparing to handle these situations. The goal for 2013 is to process 100,000 more claims than are received in 2013 to help alleviate the current backlog of 895,000 claims, more than half of which have been pending for more than 125 days.

Your veterans’ disability claim may be delayed or unfairly denied if you do not have the proper evidence of service-connected disabling conditions. To give your claim the best chance at making it through the veterans’ disability claims process, talk to a disability attorney.

 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 Claim Backlog Still Increasing Despite VA Efforts

Monday, February 6th, 2012

A recent count of veterans’ disability claims waiting in queue to be processed stood at 853,831 on January 27, while it was about 100,000 claims lower in 2011 and 500,000 claims lower in 2009. This number is only expected to rise in the coming months.

According to Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House VA Affairs Committee, at least half of the disabled veterans, with claims already filed, wait at least 6 months just to get into the initial processing stage. This may be due to the mixed regulations for disability ratings seen in the Department of Defense (DoD) and VA’s application systems, and also the increased eligibility for Agent Orange cases. Furthermore, of the estimated 2.2 million troops from the Iraq and Aghanistan Wars, nearly 624,000 have filed veterans’ disability benefits claims and more are anticipated.

Current efforts to combat the increasing backlog focus heavily on budget increases and switching to a paperless system for claim processing. The system was recently tested in Utah and Rhode Island and is set for a national launch this summer through 2013. For 2012, the VA’s budget was increased 20% to nearly $2 billion to help fund claim processing efforts.

Considering the disability ratings systems hasn’t been modified since it was created, which was at the end of WWII, one of the biggest challenges faced is the discrepancies between disability ratings from the DoD or the VA.

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.

Veteran States VA Claim Delayed by Document Written in Spanish

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

According to an article in The St. Petersburg Times, Edgar Freyre is a veteran with disabilities who filed his first claim for a disability pension in 1967 and has been fighting for that pension ever since. His most recent hurdle has been yet another delay in processing his claim because Freyre submitted a document written in Spanish.

The document in question wasn’t even necessary for the processing of his claim. Instead, it was a history of the unit he served with, which was an “all-Puerto Rican” unit, but one that was “decimated in the Korean War.” Freyre is bilingual and never considered the language of the document an issue.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), however, did see it as an issue as it took 6 months for the VA to transfer Freyre’s case from its current location, at the Board of Veterans Appeals in Washington, D.C., to a regional office in St. Petersburg, and back again to D.C. Freyre was told by the Appeals court that the claim is being transferred in order to be translated.

Freyre called the VA multiple times, as did his attorney; all to no avail. It wasn’t until the middle of November that the VA said the document had been translated but that the delay wasn’t due to translation issues, but rather to the disability backlog.

In the meantime, Freyre keeps fighting for his disability rights while he continues to battle serious health conditions that he has been dealing with since the 1950s.

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 veterans disability rights firm today 1-888-234-5758.

VA Possibly Unprepared for Iraq Soldiers Returning Home

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

After President Obama announced that the U.S. is withdrawing troops from Iraq by the end of the year, much concern was raised within the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to an article in City Watch. One major concern is what type of environment will exist for veterans with disabilities and veterans without disabilities upon their return and if the VA is ready for such an influx.

Approximately 30% of soldiers will likely develop “serious mental problems” within 3-4 months after returning to civilian life. Approximately 20% will return to this country with “serious brain and spinal injuries” and they will need either instant or ongoing direct medical attention.

Reports of veterans suffering from substance abuse and homelessness are common, and those 2 conditions will likely worsen; however, there are not solid numbers available for how much is spent combating these issues because programs are constantly evolving and changing. Reintegration into civilian life has been taking dangerous tolls on many veterans and their families.

Unemployment rates among veterans will likely skyrocket with the sudden flood of veterans looking for work. The entry of new disability claims into the VA’s system most likely will worsen their already established backlog of disability claims, and may very well undo the positive steps that have been made toward clearing the backlog over the last couple of months.

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 veterans disability rights firm today 1-888-234-5758.