The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced the implementation of an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for veterans who have waited one year or longer since filing their claims.
VA claims raters will make provisional decisions on the oldest claims in inventory. That will allow eligible veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly.
Provisional decisions will be based on all of the evidence provided to date by a veteran or obtained on his or her behalf by the VA. If a VA examination is needed to decide the claim, it will be ordered and expedited.
Issuing provisional decisions will provide veterans with applicable benefits more quickly and will give the veteran an additional one-year safety net to submit additional evidence should it become available. Veterans will be able to submit more evidence for consideration a full year after the provisional rating before the VA issues a final decision.
If any increase in benefits is determined to be warranted based on the additional evidence received, benefits will be retroactive to the date the claim initially was filed. If no further evidence is received within that year, the VA will inform the veteran that the rating is final and provide information about the standard appeals process, which can be found at www.bva.va.gov. The initiative protects the veterans right to appeal the decision.
Throughout this initiative, the VA will continue to prioritize claims for homeless veterans, those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former prisoners of war, Medal of Honor recipients and veterans filing fully developed claims.
Claims for Wounded Warriors separating from the military for medical reasons will continue to be handled separately and on a priority basis with the Department of Defense through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System. Wounded Warriors separating through IDES currently receive VA compensation benefits in an average of 61 days after their separation from service.
Richard Schleeter is the veterans service officer for the La Plata County Veterans Service Office. He can be reached at 759-0117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.