VA Initiative Promotes the Use of Fully Developed Claims
By Hook Law Center
A fully-developed claim is an application for benefits in which all available medical records and other evidence to support the claim is submitted at the time of the initial filing. The veteran certifies upon filing that he or she has no additional evidence to submit. The VA says that it is able to process a fully- developed claim in half the time required for a traditionally-filed claim.
Because private veterans service organizations assist many veterans with their claims, the VA is partnering with two of them – the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans – to steer applicants toward this more efficient process.
The initiative is part of the VA’s plan to eliminate the current massive backlog of claims in 2015 and, thereafter, process new claims within 125 days. The wait for new applicants in major urban areas averages more than 18 months in some cases.
In April 2013, the VA announced that it would expedite decisions on claims that are more than one year old. That plan involves issuing provisional decisions, which are eligible to be revised following the submission of additional evidence or appealed for a period of one year.
And on May 15, 2013, the VA announced that claims processors in its 56 regional benefits offices were required to work overtime for the remainder of fiscal year 2013.
These recent efforts, combined with the VA’s transition to computerized claims processing, should bring some much-needed relief to veterans awaiting the benefits they deserve.