Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Secretary Seeks Fast Track to Process Claims

March 9, 2010
Secretary Seeks Fast Track to Process Claims
Focus on 200,000 Veterans Expected to File Claims under New Agent
Orange Presumptives over Next Two Years

WASHINGTON – 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 include 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.
Orange 2/2/2/2
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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