As most veterans are aware by now, the VA has been attempting to turn paper VA Disability Claims files into digital or "electronic" data files. Their goal is to not only reduce the massive amounts of space required to house paper files, but to also hopefully speed up the processing time for disability claims.
The Veterans Benefits Administration provides direct payment to the veteran (or his family) due to the veterans disabilities that were the result of injuries or diseases that happened or were made worse during the veterans active military service.
Until very recently, when a veteran filed a claim, or a request to increase their disability rating, or even to "reopen" a claim that had been denied in the past, then the veteran had no choice but to use paper. The VA would then have to find the earlier claims folder and have it boxed up and shipped to a central location where it was then scanned into the VA Disability claims computer system. This of course would take weeks, sometimes even months, which slowed down the entire claims process. This method also resulted in numerous documents being "lost" or scanned into the wrong file.
With the VBA's ongoing efforts, the veterans disability claims file is now being made available electronically so that when a claim is filed, all the information is quickly found and the processing can begin.
Brad Houston, the Director of the VBA's Office of Business Process Integration has said: "What we're doing is going back and digitizing all the historical records so that when we get those claims in, we instantly have all their past history. It will give claims processors nationwide the ability to instantly acess millions of inactive claim records when needed".
So far the VBA has gathered up more than 500,000 claims files for scanning. There are over 2 million inactive files stored, so they are at least deeply into the process.
As can be expected from anything being done by the Government, there are still many delays and misfiled documents. It is currently taking over 10 months for a veteran to even get a CD copy of his claims file, and that is on claims that are currently "active".
There is no doubt but switching over to a fully electronic/digital system will reap benefits, it is just going to continue to take a very long time.
If you have questions about your veterans disability claim, call us at 1-800-522-4595. We have been representing veterans seeking their VA Disability Benefits for over 27 years and understand how frustrating the VA Claims process can be for anyone seeking veteran disability benefits.