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.
You’ve submitted your compensation or pension claim to VA or have been scheduled for an exam; do you know what’s next?
Depending on the medical information submitted with your application, VA or a VA partner may ask you to come to a claim exam, also known as a C&P exam, as part of the claim process. This exam helps VA gather additional information and determine if your disability is service connected, the level of your disability, or if your condition should receive an increased rating due to it worsening. It’s an important part of the claim decision process. Make sure you know what to expect before going to your claim exam.
Check out VA’s new resources on the VA claim exam process at: http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claimexam.asp
You can also view VA’s video series on what to expect during exams for the most common claimed conditions here. If you don’t know which disability category your condition falls under, check the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) form list.
If you’ve already been scheduled for a VA claim exam, but need to reschedule the date and time, be sure to change your appointment using the phone number given to you as soon as possible.
It is sad to say, but 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 100 men have been victims of MST.
Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is the term that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses to refer to sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that occurred while the Veteran was in the military. It includes any sexual activity in which the veteran is involved against their will – he or she may have been pressured into sexual activities, or may have been unable to consent to sexual activities (for example, when intoxicated), or may have been physically forced into sexual activities.
Other experiences that fall into the category of MST include unwanted sexual touching or grabbing; threatening, offensive remarks about a person’s body or sexual activities; and/or threatening or unwelcome sexual advances.
At Hale Law Office, we understand that all Veterans who experienced MST suffer effects to their physical and mental health, sometimes not even developing symptoms until many years after the MST happened. We also know that you can recover from this trauma.
Unfortunately, the VA still tends to deny most VA disability ratings (i.e., “service connection”) for MST. You should NEVER GIVE UP! Instead, call Roger Hale, an experienced veterans disability attorney for help.
You may be able to receive free VA Health services even if you are not eligible for other VA care. You do not need to have reported the incident(s) when they happened or have other documentation that they occurred. However, without this type of information, you will have a difficult if not impossible time receiving service connected disability benefits.
Call Hale Law Office today at 1-800-522-4595 for more information. At Hale Law Office, we are in the veterans corner and fight for your rights.