New electronic system will help VA clear claims backlog

It's a case of one step forward and one-and-a-third steps back: Although the Department of Veterans Affairs has processed nearly a million claims over the past year, another 1.3 million new claims were filed during the same period, according to the Washington Post. As of last week, the VA had 853,831 pending claims.

In an attempt to catch up on the backlog, VA will launch an electronic claims processing system, according to the article.

The only way to reach the VA's goal of processing every disability compensation claim within 125 days and with 98 percent accuracy is "to get out of the paper world and into the digital world," Thomas Murphy, director of compensation service for the Veterans Benefits Administration, said at a recent hearing before the House Veterans' subcommittee on disability assistance and memorial affairs.

The system, which the VA says uses cutting-edge information technology, has been tested in Rhode Island and Utah, and will be rolled out nationwide beginning this summer and continuing through 2013, according to the Post.

The claims system will be available through VONAPP Direct Connect (VDC), the VA's online e-benefits site, reports. Currently, the VDC site only allows veterans to request dependent changes online.

Murphy said the process of filing claims will be similar to online tax-preparation software that guides users through the process with an interview-style interface. The new process for an average claim will take 30 to 45 minutes.

"At the same time the veteran has the opportunity to submit any private evidence they want considered in the case," Murphy said at the hearing. "And just that little bit [will take] months out of our process"

To learn more:
- watch a webcast of the committee hearing
- read the Washington Post article
- read the post
- read this iHealthBeat report

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