The Department of Veterans Affairs announced the launch of an electronic claims processing system, called the Veterans Benefit Management System (VBMS). They hope the system will help them eliminate the disability backlog by the end of 2015.
“Nationwide the VA completed a record breaking 1 million claims last year and the year before that and the year before that,” said Eric K. Shinseki, U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs. “Some of these were unfinished business from previous wars.”
Much of the backlog rests with Vietnam veterans filing for issues that are just now being covered, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, and prostate problems.
“There’s close to a half dozen cancers all those are from Vietnam and have been approved over the last couple of years," said Terry Schow, Executive Director of Utah Department of Veterans Affairs.
With a total of 4.1 million paper claims over the last four years, the average processing time has jumped to 260 days. However, with the introduction of VBMS, Shinseki expects those numbers to continue to drop.
“We have completed nearly all claims in which veterans have been waiting over two years across the county,” Shinseki said. “Here in Salt Lake, all two year old claims are done and they’re working on claims that are over one year old."
According to Terry Schow, Utah’s Veterans Affairs Office is making major improvements in speeding up the claim processing time. They only have over one thousand claims that are pending over a year.
“When I went from a Commerce 64 to an iPad, that's what the VA is doing,” Schow said. “They're going from hard paper to electronic files. I think it's a good thing."