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New filing process established for vets

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Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 1:19 PM

The main objective of the Veterans Service Office is to provide prevention, protection, advocacy and support services to veterans and their families so they can maximize their quality of life, well-being and potential.

The La Plata County Veterans Service Office provides information and assistance to veterans and their families. There is a wide range of benefits available for our nation’s veterans. Every veteran is encouraged to contact the CVSO to find out more about their VA benefits. Your CVSO can assist you in any matter pertaining to the Department of Veterans Affairs. These services are free of charge. Please visit the La Plata County website at www.co.laplata.co.us for more information about what the La Plata County Veterans Service Office can do for you.

The office is co-located with the Durango VA Clinic at 1970 E. Third Ave., Suite 102, Durango, CO. 81301. For clinic appointments, call 247-2214. The Veterans Service Office phone number is 759-0117. Office hours are 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. Appointments are encouraged. Call 382-6150 to schedule an appointment.

Intent to fileA new intent to file process has been established for veterans and survivors who intend to file a claim for VA compensation, pension or survivors’ benefits but need additional time to gather all of the information and evidence needed to support their claim.

What is the intent to file process?The intent to file process allows you additional time to collect all of the information needed to support your claim while protecting the earliest possible effective date for any award of benefits or increased benefits resulting from your claim. The date VA receives your intent to file will be protected as your effective date as long as the correct application form is completed and submitted within one year.

What does an intent to file a claim contain?Your intent to file must contain: Sufficient personal information to identify the veteran and claimant (if not the veteran); An election of the general benefit(s) you are seeking (i.e., compensation, pension or survivors benefits); and Your or your representative’s signature. How do veterans or survivors notify VA of their intent to file?There are three ways you can notify VA of your intent to file a claim:

Electronically by eBenefits or with the support of a Veterans Service Officer through the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal. When submitting through eBenefits, you must initiate a claim, complete the personal information page and hit “save,” which then establishes your effective date while allowing you up to one year to complete your application. Completing and mailing paper VA Form 21-0966, Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/or Pension, or Survivors Pension and/or DIC.Over the phone or in person. Claimants can call VA’s National Call Centers at (800) 827-1000 or tell a public contact representative in person at one of VA’s regional office. Intent to file preserves the effective date of a potential claimOnce VA is notified of your intent to file, you have up to one year from the date VA receives your intent to file to submit a formal claim for benefits and any supporting documentation.

The intent to file process also allows VA to award benefits retroactive to the date of your medical diagnosis or treatment as long as the intent to file is filed within one year of the diagnosis/treatment and the required claim form is filed within one year of the intent to file.

Other important information about intent to fileVA will recognize only one intent to file per general benefit at any given time. Your completed claim must be received within one year of the date VA receives your intent to file for the same general benefit in order for VA to consider your intent to file when assigning an effective date.Once you have submitted a completed claim, your intent to file for that general benefit will no longer be active. If you intend to file another claim, but require time to complete your claim, you must submit a new intent to file for the general benefit you are seeking. Richard Schleeter is the veterans service officer for the La Plata County Veterans Service Office. He can be reached at 759-0117 or schleeterrs@co.laplata.co.us.

For more information

The La Plata County Veterans Service Office provides information and assis­tance to veterans and their families. For more information, visit the county website at www.co.laplata.co.us and type “veterans services” in the search window. The Veterans Service Office and the Durango VA Clinic are located at 1970 East Third Ave. The office phone number is 759-0117. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays except holidays. Appointments are encouraged. To schedule an appoint­ment, call 382-6150. For clinic appointments, call 247-2214.
Help for vetsThe Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans, family and friends. Call (800) 273-8255 and press 1. You also can text professional responders at 838255 or chat online at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net.
Health care van serviceDisabled American Veterans is running a VA health-care van from Durango to Albuquerque on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from Farmington to Albuquerque on Mondays and Wednesdays. If you want to use the DAV transportation network, contact DAV coordinators at:
Durango area – 442-0149Cortez area – (970) 676-1116Farmington/Aztec – (505) 793-1782

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