VA to test paperless claims processing system

Goal is to reduce backlog of 497,000 pending claims

The Veterans Affairs Department will test its new paperless claims processing system starting in November at its regional benefits office in Providence, R.I.

The pilot project will operate from November until May 2011. Assuming the project and additional tests are successful, the system eventually will be deployed to all 57 regional benefits offices, according to an announcement dated Aug. 5.

The VA is currently developing a prototype of a paperless rapid claims processing system to deal with the current backlog of approximately 497,000 disability claims. The goal of the paperless system and related initiatives is to “break the back of the backlog,” the department said.


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VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has set a goal of having the department process all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy by 2015.

The VA recently contracted with IBM Corp. to help automate part of the disability claims system to deal with an anticipated influx of Agent Orange claims later this year. IBM was awarded a $9.1 million contract to collaborate with VA developers to develop and implement the new claims processing system by November.

Disability claims are expected to surge later this year as a result of a new regulation implementing a presumption of service connection for three disabilities: B-cell leukemia associated with Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam, Parkinson’s disease, and ischaemic heart disease.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Wed, Aug 11, 2010 Barbara Hemphill Raleigh

I'm glad to see people finally moving toward paperless! As the author of the book series Kiplinger’s Taming the Paper Tiger, I have been helping people organize their paper for 30+ years, and have watched as it became more and more difficult for individuals and organizations to do. But even going Almost Paperless™ isn't easy; the change requires extensive cooperation between management and staff, and time and training to implement the process. However, that doesn’t mean that every organization shouldn’t get started on the road to paperless!

Wed, Aug 11, 2010

Dear VA, SSA already has multiple disability processing systems. It is free for 2 government agencies to collaborate with each other, but instead you chose to pay IBM $9.1 M/B to replicate work already done for SSA. This is exactly how the government wastes money. The right hand doesn't know what the left is doing. Agencies, especially DOD, just contract out work without stopping to think that another agency with a similar mission may already have some capabilities that could be leveraged. The government is constantly reinventing the wheel and paying contractors to do so. Meanwhile the contractors are probably just reusing a lot of the same work from project to project and are raking in the bucks because the government doesn't realize it is paying for a project that is already half-completed. If contracts are written correctly with the appropriate records clauses included (big IF, this is another problem), then the contractor's work product becomes government property when the contract ends. The government can then reuse that work (the analysis/code/system) however it sees fit. Wake up Washington! You don't have to pay for the same work to be done over and over!

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