08.02.13

Provisions from S. 423 (112th Congress) Take Effect on August 6th

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claims process has long been plagued by large backlogs and lengthy delays. Veterans in North Carolina regularly tell me how frustrated they are with this confusing process, some waiting years for progress to be made on their cases. While there are still many problems with the VA backlog that must be addressed, I want to mention a step that individuals filing claims for VA benefits can take on their own to try to avoid some of the delays and hassles of the VA claims process. Experience has shown that, if claimants gather up the evidence VA will need and send it in with their claims, VA is able to decide those fully-developed claims with fewer delays.

Last year, in the 112th Congress, we passed legislation that included a provision from a bill I authored, S. 423, which will allow up to one year of retroactive benefits if an original fully-developed claim is granted. That provision takes effect on Tuesday, August 6, 2013, and I hope it will encourage more veterans to file fully-developed claims and, in return, receive faster decisions from VA.

When veterans file a fully-developed claim VA is able to move past a number of time-consuming steps in the claims process and directly begin ordering any necessary medical examinations and federal records. According to the VA this allows them to issue a decision in half the time of a traditional claim, without sacrificing quality.

To read more about this provision and the requirements for a fully-developed claim, click here and here.

While this provision offers some expediency to new cases, I am still dedicated to making sure VA realizes the damage done to our nation's veterans when the process is broken. If you have any questions about filing a claim, please contact any of my offices and my staff will be happy to help you.