Initiatives to speed up VA benefits delivery

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced the national deployment of claims transformation initiatives to 12 regional offices in the remaining months of fiscal year 2012 to improve benefits delivery to veterans, families and their survivors.

The 12 regional offices to begin the deployment of the transformation initiatives include: Huntington, W.Va.; Hartford, Conn.; Portland, Ore.; Houston; Cleveland; Des Moines, Iowa; Boise, Idaho; Phoenix; New Orleans; San Juan, P.R.; Atlanta; and Newark, N.J. The deployment follows four pilot programs in Indianapolis; Wichita, Kan.; Milwaukee; and Fort Harrison, Mont., in 2012.

VA’s transformation plan is based on more than 40 measures that were selected, evaluated, tested and measured from more than 600 stakeholder and employee innovation ideas.

During the national deployment, VA will further track and gauge the integrated effects of the transformation plan to reduce the backlog of disability claims and provide veterans, their families and survivors with more timely and accurate claims decisions. VA expects to deploy the transformation plan to the remaining 40 regional offices throughout 2013.

The major components of the transformation plan that will be nationally deployed include:

• The Intake Processing Center, which adds a formalized process for triaging claims documents and other mail, and drives faster and more accurate association of mail with veterans’ claims files;

• Segmented Processing Lanes, which allow claims that can be more easily rated to move quickly through the system and the more complex claims to be processed by VA’s more experienced and skilled employees;

• Cross-Functional Teams, which support a case-management approach to claims processing that minimizes rework and reduces processing time; and

• The Veterans Benefits Management System, which is a new electronic claims processing system that employs rules-based technologies to improve decision speed and quality.

VA has already nationally implemented:

• Quality Review Teams, which are composed of dedicated local quality review specialists who will evaluate station and individual employee performance and conduct in-process reviews to eliminate errors at the earliest possible stage.

• Simplified and Standardized Rating Notification Letters, which give veterans one simplified decision letter that provides notice of VA’s decision, including a summary of the evidence considered and the reason for the decision.

Veterans filing claims may file online through eBenefits, a joint project between the Department of Defense and VA. They can check the status of their claim with a Premium eBenefits account, and use a growing number of online services, or contact VA Call Centers for more information at (800) 827-1000.