Veterans News Blog

Vets Issues

VA Makes Filing Claims Easier and Faster for Veterans Simpler Forms and New Program Reduce Paperwork and Speed Process

WASHINGTON (June 15, 2010) – As part of Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Eric K. Shinseki's effort to break the back of the backlog, the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is reducing the paperwork and
expediting the process for Veterans seeking compensation for
disabilities related to their military service.

"These reductions in paperwork, along with other improvements to
simplify and speed the claims process, symbolize changes underway to
make VA more responsive to Veterans and their families," said Secretary
Shinseki.

VA has shortened application forms to reduce paperwork for Veterans. The
new forms, which are being made available on VA's Web site at
www.va.gov/vaforms <http://www.va.gov/vaforms/> , include:

*       A shortened VA Form 21-526 for Veterans applying for the
first-time to VA for disability compensation or pension benefits.  This
form has been cut in half – from 23 to 10 pages.  It is immediately
available to Veterans via Web download, and will be available through
VA's online claim-filing process later this summer at
http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp

*       VA Form 21-526b for Veterans seeking increased benefits for
conditions already determined by VA to be service-connected.  This new
form more clearly describes the information needed to support claims for
increased benefits.

In order to make the claims process faster, VA has also introduced two
new forms for Veterans participating in the Department's new fully
developed claim (FDC) program, which is one of the fastest means to
receive a claims decision.

Gathering the information and evidence needed to support a Veteran's
disability claim often takes the largest portion of the processing time.
If VA receives all of the available evidence when the claim is
submitted, the remaining steps in the claims-decision process can be
expedited without compromising quality.

To participate in the FDC program, Veterans should complete and submit
an FDC Certification and VA Form 21-526EZ, "Fully Developed Claim
(Compensation)," for a compensation claim, or a VA Form 21-527EZ, "Fully
Developed Claim (Pension)," for a pension claim.

The forms were designed specifically for the FDC program.  These
six-page application forms include notification to applicants of all
information and evidence necessary to "fully develop" and substantiate
their claims.  With this notification, Veterans and their
representatives can "fully develop" their claims before submission to VA
for processing.

Along with the application and certification, Veterans must also submit
all relevant and pertinent evidence to "fully develop" their claims.  A
claim submitted as "fully developed" may still require some additional
evidence to be obtained by VA, to include certain federal records and a
VA medical examination.

VA provides compensation, pension, education, loan guaranty, vocational
rehabilitation, employment, and insurance benefits to Veterans and their
families through 57 VA regional offices.

Disability compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to a Veteran for
disabilities that are a result of — or made worse by — injuries or
diseases that happened while on active duty, active duty for training or
inactive duty training.  Pension is a benefit paid to wartime Veterans
with limited income, and who are permanently and totally disabled or age
65 or older.

For additional information, go to www.va.gov <http://www.va.gov/>  or
call VA's toll free benefits number at 1-800-827-1000.

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