The Department of Veterans Affairs recently welcomed the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA) to its Fully Developed Claims (FDC) Community of Practice, established in May to speed the processing of veterans' disability compensation claims. FDCs allow for the early submission of all available evidence needed by VA to reach a disability rating decision. NASDVA joins The American Legion, a charter member of the community, and other veterans service organizations.
"We're thrilled NASDVA is part of the effort to increase the number of veterans filing fully developed claims so that earned benefits can be delivered faster," said Allison Hickey, VA's under secretary for benefits. She said that state veterans affairs offices help thousands of veterans across the country each year to get the benefits they deserve, and their support is critical in meeting VA's goal of processing all claims within 125 days by 2015.
Claims are considered to be fully developed when a veteran submits all available supporting evidence (such as private medical records) when a formal claim is first filed. The veteran must then certify he or she has no additional evidence to submit. VA typically completes FDCs in about half the time it takes for traditionally filed claims.
VA recently announced that veterans filing FDCs may be entitled to retroactive disability benefits for up to one year. The retroactive benefits, in effect until Aug. 5, 2015, are the result of a comprehensive legislative package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last year.
"I strongly encourage all states to embrace a claims culture that is centered on FDCs," said NASDVA President W. Clyde Marsh in a letter to members. "In order to make a huge impact on reducing the nation's claims backlog, it will take a collective effort with NASDVA, veterans service organizations, the Veterans Benefits Administration and veterans."
Veterans can learn more about disability benefits on the joint Department of Defense-VA web portal for eBenefits . They can also get assistance in filing their claims from one of The American Legion's 2,600 service officers and accredited representatives throughout the country. Veterans can locate the nearest Legion service officer via www.legion.org .
The American Legion has been focusing on the FDC program since last December, and has seen a substantial increase  in the number of FDCs being submitted to VA by Legion service officers.