Management

VA paperless benefits rollout gains speed

graph showing veterans age

GAO found that the number of younger veterans receiving benefits is growing. (GAO graphic)

The Department of Veterans Affairs is in the continual process of rolling out the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), and the Hartford, Conn. office is leading the way. In September, the Connecticut office was the first to switch over to VBMS, and "the digital, paperless system now used in 18 locations around the nation, is to be fielded in all 56 offices by the end of" 2013 The Washington Post reported.

According to the VA, VBMS is a way for the agency to cut down the average processing time when a Veteran files a claim, on average from 240 days to 119. The $537 million system was implemented in part due to a backlog of paperwork "of claims filed by veterans seeking disability benefits has soared in recent years as troops have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and because of a policy change making it easier for Vietnam veterans to file Agent Orange-related claims," The Washington Post reported in a July 2012 story.

In order to go all-paperless, the VA will have to scan and extract data from the current paper claims, a daunting task that the VA apparently has no detailed plans for, according to services representatives. Other problems include older veterans continuing to file on paper and slow software systems.

In April 2012, FCW reported on a hearing in which veterans’ representatives said getting rid of the claims backlog should not be the only priority. Jeffrey Hall, assistant national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, said that reforms for the VA should dig deeper.

"While the elimination of the backlog will be a welcome milestone, we must remember that eliminating the backlog is not necessarily the same goal as reforming the claims processing system, nor does it guarantee that veterans are better served," Hall said. "The backlog is a symptom, not the root cause."

About the Author

Emily Cole is an editorial intern for FCW.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.