Solutions to End the VA Disability Claims Backlog
Posted by IAVA Staff on May 6
1. Show the Path to Backlog Zero
The President should create a commission to end the backlog in order to form and present a clear, comprehensive plan to backlog zero . This plan should include input from DoD, VA, VSOs and related private sector experts. This plan should also include precise metrics and benchmarks that will ensure it stays on track and mandate Congressional oversight on the VA’s progress.
2. Develop a Truly Digital Process
DoD and VA must immediately establish a functioning integrated digital health records system. Without this system, the VA will not be able to fully implement the digital claims process.
3. Do it Right the First Time
The VA must reform their work-credit program in order to change how claims processors are evaluated. Instead of being evaluated on the number of claims they handle, claims processors should be evaluated on the accuracy and speed with which they rate a claim. This ensures claims are rated correctly the first time and will reduce the number of appealed decisions.
4. Don’t Duplicate Medical Evidence
The VA should be required to accept the medical opinions and diagnoses of non-VA doctors during the claims process. This will reduce the duration of the claims process by not forcing veterans to schedule an appointment with a VA doctor to confirm a diagnosis they have already received.
Current Legislation - H.R. 1521- Extends the VA's ability to use private physicians to conduct examinations for disability evaluations
5. Rate What You Can Now
Disability claims processors should assign provisional disability ratings on all claims based on the initial evidence veterans provide. These provisional ratings will give veterans access to benefits and care while waiting for the rest of their claim to be finalized.
6. Standardize Claims Decisions
The VA should streamline and standardize all claims notification letters. This will increase the number of claims that processors can finish each month. The VA should also begin including an appeals form in all VA disability claims decision correspondence. This will cut as many as 100 days off of the appeal process.
Current Legislation - H.R. 1405- Requires the VA to include an appeals form in a veteran’s initial claim denial notification.
7. Allow the VA to Plan Ahead
Congress should act to ensure the entire VA budget is funded one year in advance. This ensures the VA can follow through on a transformation plan, modernize its services, and commit to programs that require multi-year funding.
Current Legislation - H.R. 813- Funds the entire VA one year in advance.
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