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VA Launches New Process To Turn Around Disability Claims In 30 Days Or Less
In an effort to streamline its claims process, the Department of Veteran Affairs announced the official launch of the Decision Ready Claims program for all regional VA offices on Sept. 8, which promises a decision on claims for upgrading disability compensation within 30 days of filing, and could potentially cut out months of waiting.
The system, which has been in the pilot phase since May 1, requires veterans to work with accredited veteran service organizations, such as Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars, to ensure a veteran has all necessary documentation for their disability compensation upgrade prior to submitting the paperwork. Veterans in need of VSO services can locate the nearest office by searching on the VA website.
Currently, veterans can submit a claim with little additional paperwork, which places the impetus on the VA to collect the required documents, schedule any necessary exams, and generally, do most of the heavy lifting. Under the Decision Ready Claims process, veterans can opt to do that legwork themselves ahead of time.
“For veterans who need more flexibility in scheduling doctors appointments and to gather evidence, it might help,” Ryan Gallucci, VFW’s director of the national veterans service, told Task & Purpose. “Right now DRC is making it so veterans take on a lot of the responsibility to take on their own claim. That may be good for some, but probably not the best way for most.”
Veterans opting for the new claims process will have to gather the required documentation then have a VSO representative review the documents to ensure everything is in order. The VSO rep can then mandate additional evidence for the claim if it's needed before the claim is submitted. Once filed, the VA has 30 days to respond.
While the DRC currently is limited to claims for increased disability compensation, which represent about 10% of VA’s total claims, according to Military Times, the department plans to expand the types of claims accepted under DRC in the coming months.
While 30 days is a vast improvement, officials warn that collecting the information needed for the claim can be time-consuming.
“Gathering their military personnel records, military medical records, any private medical evidence you might have, any statements from your family members or people you served with in support of your claim, that can take a long time,” Gallucci told Task & Purpose, adding that it could take months, maybe even a year for a veteran to gather all the requisite material for the DRC.
It’s possible that by shifting the legwork from VA representatives to veterans and VSOs, the department is attempting to tackle an issue that’s plagued it for years: the claims backlog.
“In a way it takes the development time off of VA’s books and has the potential to artificially make the backlog look better or make the pending workload look better, because that time still exists, the veteran is still responsible for going to exams and collecting evidence,” Gallucci said. “With how the paperwork would be filed, it would no longer be considered part of the pending workload.”
In March 2013, the VA came under fire when its backlog of claims peaked at 610,000, drawing harsh criticism and calls for reform. In the years since, it has shrunk, fluctuating around 100,000, according to Military Times.
Ultimately, it’s up to the individual veteran to decide whether DRC will work in their case.
“It's an aggressive pilot program, and we're going to work with VA to make sure it works and meets the needs of veterans, that's our top priority," said Gallucci. “Anyone interested in this program should have an honest conversation with your veteran service officer.”
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Trump: $6.1 billion in DoD money going to border wall wasn’t for anything that seemed ‘too important to me’
President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."
Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."
D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.
"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."