Massive number of veterans' eBenefits applications incomplete, set to expire

Most veterans who started their disability claims through the Web portal eBenefits failed to complete them--and thousands of incomplete applications are due to expire this month, reports Nextgov.

In June 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense rolled out their joint portal technology to all 56 regional offices and promised the technology would speed up claims processing times.

However, only 72,000 claims have been completed and approved since June 2013, while 228,000 are incomplete, according to Gerald Manar, deputy director of the National Veterans Service at VFW. Manar says the system was "not ready for prime time" when it launched and added that claims started more than 365 days ago have already expired.

The portal allows the veteran to start a claim online, but not necessarily complete it, in order to hold a date of claim. They would then have 365 days to submit the necessary documentation. It's not clear whether veterans who began a claim online later submitted a paper application, according to the Nextgov report.

"The VA eBenefits team has no way of actually knowing which claims that might be started within eBenefits are valid and or have been abandoned for any number of reasons," VA spokeswoman Meagan Lutz told Nextgov.

In April, the VA said it had reduced its claims backlog by about 44 percent to 344,000 claims, reducing the average wait time for a decision by 119 days over a year ago. It touted a scanning technology that provides documentation from the veteran's medical record in part for its progress.

Despite the furor over its backlog, the VA isn't the only agency behind in claims processing. Medicaid has nearly 3 million unprocessed claims, which it blames largely on technical issues related to the health insurance exchange websites.

To learn more:
- read the Nextgov article