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Military & Veterans' Issues

VA Tries To Streamline Claims With 30-Day Promise

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Flickr / Shehan Peruma

The Veterans Administration is trying to streamline its disability claims process by involving outside organizations. 

On September 8th, the VA unveiled its Decision Ready Claims program, which promises a decision for upgrading disability compensation within 30 days of filing. That reduced wait time could be a plus for many vets. 

The program requires veterans to work with veteran service organizations like the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans to make sure that they have all the documents they need  before submitting a claim. 

Under the normal process, veterans can submit a claim with very little paperwork. That means the VA is responsible for helping gather the rest.  As a result, it spends a lot of time scheduling doctors' appointments and locating documents. 

The DRC program transfers a lot of that responsibility back to veterans and veterans services groups. 

Emile Dufrene is with the Houston Regional VA Benefits Office. He said that the DRC program provides another avenue for veterans to have their claims reviewed.

"Some folks would rather be hands-on, like with insurance claims. Some folks would rather the insurance company do everything for them," Dufrene explained. 

DRC is mainly an option for veterans who are able to be self-directed. For those who need more guidance, the traditional VA claims route is probably best. 

Claims for increased disability compensation make up about 10 percent of the VA's total claims load. Dufrene said that the the DRC program will help the VA clear some of its claims backlog. 

"While now the average time to process a claim nationwide is about 95 days, that's down from upwards of three to six months a couple of years back," he said.

VA says it plans to expand the DRC program in the next few months.