Veterans News Blog

Vets Issues

Secretary Seeks Fast Track to Process Claim

Focus on 200,000 Veterans Expected to File Claims under New Agent Orange
Presumptives over Next Two Years

WASHINGTON (March 9, 2010) – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
announced today an aggressive new initiative to solicit private-sector
input on a proposed "fast track" Veterans' claims process for
service-connected presumptive illnesses due to Agent Orange exposure
during the Vietnam War.

"This will be a new way of doing business and a major step forward in
how we process the presumptive claims we expect to receive over the next
two years," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. "With
the latest, fastest, and most reliable technology, VA hopes to migrate
the manual processing of these claims to an automated process that meets
the needs of today's Veterans in a more timely manner."

Over the next two years, about 200,000 Veterans are expected to file
disability compensation claims under an historic expansion of three new
presumptive illnesses announced last year by Secretary Shinseki.  They
affect Veterans who have Parkinson's disease, ischemic heart disease and
B-cell leukemias.

In practical terms, Veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and
who have one of the illnesses covered by the "presumption of service
connection" don't have to prove an association between their medical
problems and military service.  This "presumption" makes it easier for
Vietnam Veterans to access disability compensation benefits. Vietnam
Veterans are encouraged to submit their claims as soon as possible to
begin the important process of compensation.

Along with the publication of proposed regulations for the three new
presumptives this spring, VA intends to publish a formal request in
Federal Business Opportunities for private-sector corporations to
propose automated solutions for the parts of the claims process that
take the longest amount of time.  VA believes these can be collected in
a more streamlined and accurate way.

Development involves determining what additional information is needed
to adjudicate the claim, such as military and private medical records
and the scheduling of medical examinations.

With this new approach, VA expects to shorten the time it takes to
gather evidence, which now takes on average over 90 days.  Once the
claim is fully developed and all pertinent information is gathered, VA
will be able to more quickly decide the claim and process the award, if
granted.

The contract is expected to be awarded in April with proposed solutions
offered to VA within 90 days.  Implementation of the solution is
expected within 150 days.

"Veterans whose health was harmed during their military service are
entitled to the best this nation has to offer," added Secretary
Shinseki. "We are undertaking an unprecedented modernization of our
claims process to ensure timely and accurate delivery of that
commitment."

Last year, VA received more than one million claims for disability
compensation and pension.  VA provides compensation and pension benefits
to over 3.8 million Veterans and beneficiaries.  Presently, the basic
monthly rate of compensation ranges from $123 to $2,673 to Veterans
without any dependents.

Disability compensation is a non-taxable, monthly monetary benefit paid
to Veterans who are disabled as a result of an injury or illness that
was incurred or aggravated during active military service.

For more information about disability compensation, go to www.va.gov.
Additional information about Agent Orange and VA's services and programs
for Veterans exposed are available at
www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange

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