Collaborative effort between VBA and VSOs improves claims process
American Legion Service Officer Ray Odum meets with Bill Hurley, a veteran who he’s helped at the American Legion Post 11 in Trinidad, Colo., on Tuesday, February 23. Photo by Chet Strange/The American Legion

Collaborative effort between VBA and VSOs improves claims process

A collaborative effort over the last six months between the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and veterans service organizations (VSOs) — including The American Legion — resulted in technology updates that will help streamline the VA claims process. These efforts resulted in the implementation of a program piloting an electronic notification feature within the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS).

“There was a consensus that the notification system should be linked to the actual VBMS system,” said Marty Callaghan, deputy director of claims services for The American Legion. “A new, electronic notification system located on the homepage of the VBMS would solve problems our department service officers (DSOs) were facing.”

DSOs were having difficulty receiving paper notifications that updated them on the status of claims, mainly due to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the United States Postal Service. Providing real-time electronic notifications throughout the claims process resolves some challenges DSOs were facing when handling claims.

When a veteran filing a disability claim assigns power of attorney to The American Legion, that allows a DSO to access critical documents associated with the veteran filing a claim. These service officers are trained by The American Legion to provide other accredited representatives with specialized training on issues affecting veterans and their families. They handle hundreds of thousands of VA claims each year and during fiscal year 2020, secured more than $14.25 billion in benefits for the nation’s veterans.

In addition to the new electronic notification system, VBA is presently piloting the Claim Accuracy Request (CAR) program. This program creates a process which allows DSOs to quickly identify errors that VBA can easily review and correct. The DSOs have 30 calendar days following an electronic notification to review the relevant document, for example, a rating decision, and ensure that any errors are identified.

“This two-part solution allows our accredited representatives in the field to easily keep up to date on the documents being generated for their review and also allows them to correct the record when it needs to be corrected,” said Callaghan. “This is certainly a good example of how veterans service organizations and the Department of Veterans Affairs can really work closely together to develop a new process.”

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