Technology in Place for Electronic Submission of Veterans’ Disability Claims

Technology in Place for Electronic Submission of Veterans’ Disability Claims

Capability Marks Major Milestone in VA Transformation to Digital Claims Process

WASHINGTON – A new online application from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) enables disability compensation claims to be processed faster in a more end-to-end electronic environment, and VA is urging Veterans and their Veterans Service Organization  (VSO) representatives to make full use of its capabilities to receive speedier decisions and reduce the backlog of claims. 

The availability of the joint VA-Department of Defense Web portal eBenefits, which now integrates with the new internal Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) electronic claims processing system, marks a major milestone in VA’s transformation from paper claims records to a fully digital operating environment, one of the keys to VA’s goal to eliminate the disability claims backlog by the end of 2015. VBMS has now been fielded at all 56 Regional Offices across the country, ahead of schedule.  VA will continue to upgrade and improve VBMS based on user feedback, and add features and tools that make it faster and easier to process claims. Instead of filling out and mailing paper forms to VA, Veterans can now use eBenefits to enter claim information online using a step-by-step, interview-style application, with pre-populated data fields and drop-down menus similar to popular tax preparation software. 

“There are so many advantages to making this move from paper to digital – for both Veterans and VA” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “Veterans can now file their claims online through eBenefits like they might do their taxes online.”

By filing electronically, any compensation benefits that are awarded will be effective back to the date the Veteran started entering their claim information in eBenefits.  From that initial claim establishment date, each Veteran has up to a year to gather all necessary records and hit “submit” to preserve their original date of claim. 

eBenefits allows Veterans to upload digital images of records and evidence to support their claims, bypassing the need to physically mail in personal records and wait for confirmation of receipt. VA is advising Veterans to gather and submit all relevant medical records and file a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) in eBenefits, which entails entering all available evidence at the time the claim is submitted and verifying to VA that they have no more evidence to submit. Veterans filing an FDC will receive priority processing over the traditional claims process.   VA can typically process FDCs in half the time it takes for a traditionally filed claim, and there is no risk to Veterans in filing an FDC.  If VA finds that there is a piece of relevant evidence that was not submitted by the Veteran, but is needed for a rating decision (like private medical records), claims processors will work to obtain that evidence on the Veteran’s behalf and process the claim in the traditional way.

Once logged into eBenefits, Veterans can also choose to have an accredited VSO representative assist with their claim submission by filing an electronic power of attorney form.  Using this new system, the chosen VSO representative, with proper authorization, will be able to see the contents of a Veteran’s claim, track its status, and add additional information when needed. A Veteran and his or her representative can even work a claim simultaneously while both are logged into the system, enabling VSOs to assist more Veterans in their homes or even remotely. 

VA will still accept claims in paper form, though processing may take longer than for an electronically-submitted claim.  As of this summer, VA scans all new paper claims and uploads them into VBMS so they too can be processed electronically, though without many of the benefits provided when Veterans initiate the process in eBenefits such as guided questions that help ensure complete and accurate information and the immediate receipt of information without having to wait for the scanning and processing of paper documents. In addition to filing claims online, registered eBenefits users can track their claim status and access information on a variety of other benefits, like pension, education, health care, home loan eligibility, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs. 

A free Premium eBenefits account is required to file claims electronically. The quickest and most convenient method of establishing a free premium eBenefits account is to complete the remote verification process through the eBenefits home page, or use DoD’s common access card (CAC) to register for and/or upgrade to a free premium account.  Veterans can also establish an account by telephone at 1-800-827-1000, option 7, if they are in receipt of VA benefits via direct deposit, or by visiting a VA regional office or TRICARE Service Center (if they are a military retiree). For the location of the nearest VA regional office, visit and search the VA regional benefits office locator.

While compensation claims are pending, eligible Veterans are able to receive healthcare and other benefits from VA.  Veterans who have served in recent conflicts are eligible for 5 years of free healthcare from VA. Currently, over 55% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are using VA healthcare, a rate of utilization greater than previous generations of Veterans.

This is the latest effort in support of the Secretary’s plan to eliminate the backlog. On May 15, VA announced that it is mandating overtime for claims processors in its 56 regional benefits offices through the end of fiscal year 2013 to help eliminate the backlog, with continued emphasis on high-priority claims for homeless Veterans, those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former Prisoners of War, Medal of Honor recipients, and Veterans filing Fully Developed Claims.

In April, VA announced an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for Veterans who have waited one year or longer.   On April 19, VA began prioritizing claims decisions for Veterans who have been waiting the longest by providing decisions based on evidence currently in hand that allow eligible Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits quickly while waiting for theirfinal eligibility decision. 

For more information about VA benefits, go to  For more information on VA’s Transformation, go to


Leadership and QM Manual available online at VFW.ORG

For your information, the 2013-14 VFW Leadership Reference materials, that include the Commander’s and Quartermaster’s Manuals, are now available on-line. As with last year, you’ll need to Login at  Once logged in they are housed under “My VFW”.  Please let me know if you have any questions

Kevin C. Jones
Director, Administrative Operations
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
406 W 34th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64111


For Immediate Release

VA Hires Over 1,600 Mental Health Professionals to Meet Goal,

Expands Access to Care and Outreach Efforts

Manchester VAMC Hires 15 New Mental Health Professionals


Manchester, NH  – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it has met the goal to hire 1,600 new mental health professionals outlined in President Obama’s August 31, 2012, Executive Order to Improve Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Families. Manchester VA Medical Center has hired 15 new mental health professionals toward this goal.

“I am proud of the hard work our staff has completed to bring these new staff members on board,” said Susan A. MacKenzie, PhD, Acting Medical Center Director. “We are not slowing our efforts however, and will continue to actively recruit for any vacant mental health positions for the future so Veterans will get the care they need. Not only have we hired new mental health professionals but the Manchester VAMC has specialty areas related to Mental Health, such as Veterans Justice Outreach, Homeless Veterans Outreach, Military Sexual Trauma, Women’s Wellness Group, just to name a few.”

As of May 31, 2013, VA has hired a total of 1,607 mental health clinical providers to meet the goal of 1,600 new mental health professionals outlined in the Executive Order. Additionally, VA has hired 2,005 mental health clinical providers to fill existing vacancies.

“Meeting this hiring milestone significantly enhances our ability to improve access to care for those Veterans seeking mental health services and demonstrates our continued commitment to the health and well-being of the men and women who have served the Nation,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Meeting this goal is an important achievement, but we recognize that we must continue to increase access to the quality mental health care Veterans have earned and deserve.”

VA provides a full range of comprehensive mental health services across the country.  In Fiscal Year 2012, more than 1.3 million Veterans received specialized mental health care from VA.  This number has risen each year from 927,052 in Fiscal Year 2006. In addition to hiring more mental health professionals, VA is expanding the use of innovative technology to serve Veterans in rural or underserved areas. VA expects to increase the number of Veterans receiving care from tele-mental health services in fiscal year 2013, and has increased the number of Vet Centers, which provide readjustment counseling and referral services from 233 in 2008 to 300 in 2012.

In November 2011, VA launched an award-winning, national public awareness campaign called Make the Connection, which is aimed at reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health care and informing Veterans, their families, friends, and members of their communities about VA resources.  More information on Make the Connection can be found at

Mental health professionals interested in seeking employment with the Department of Veterans Affairs can obtain information at Veterans and their families interested in learning more about the mental health services provided by VA can go to


VFW Washington Weekly

June 14, 2013

Happy Flag Day

Happy 238th Army Birthday



In This Issue:

1. VFW Testifies before Senate VA Committee

2. VFW Attends SECDEF Meeting

3. Senate Armed Services Clears Defense Bill

4. VFW Joins Twitter Chat on Veterans Employment

5. VFW at National League of Families Meeting

6. Korean War 60th


1. VFW Testifies before Senate VA Committee: This week, the VFW testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee on more than 35 veterans’ benefits bills that will improve or change employment, education, and the VA disability claims backlog, and other programs under VA. VFW focused on bills designed to protect student-veterans and also spoke in favor of COLA, and relaxing evidentiary standards to make it easier for Military Sexual Assault (MST) survivors to receive VA benefits. We will continue to follow each of these bills closely, making recommendations to the committee prior to mark-up in the coming months. Check back regularly for updates.

For our complete testimony and more information about the hearing visit our blog at:


2.  VFW Attends SECDEF Meeting: The VFW Washington Office attended a VSO/MSO conference with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel yesterday. It was his second such conference with veterans and military service organization leadership since becoming SECDEF in February. The purpose was to update the VSO/MSO communities on DOD programs and policies that affect service members, veterans, retirees and their families, plus to listen to our concerns regarding budget impacts on training and readiness, as well as military healthcare, Quality of Life programs, and VFW’s long-term goal of creating one DOD electronic medical record that is 100 percent interoperable between the three military medical commands and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VFW again reiterated its support of a programed 1.8-percent military pay increase—instead of the 1 percent requested raise—and our opposition to changing the current military retirement system, and any increases to Tricare premiums beyond what’s mandated by law, which links enrollment increases to cost-of-living adjustments.


3. Senate Armed Services Clears Defense Bill: Late yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee discussed over 100 amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before voting to send the bill to the Senate floor.  As expected, the bill included language regarding sexual assault within the military as well as a rejection of any increase in Tricare fees, deductible or copayments for military retirees and their families. Unfortunately, the Senate bill only provided for a 1 percent pay raise for service members, a .8 percent decrease from what the House has agreed to in their bill.  The House is continuing to debate their bill today with over 172 amendments being offered and the Senate is expected to hold floor votes sometime after the August recess.  The differences within the two bills will then be ironed out in a Conference Committee sometime in the fall. VFW will have more on both bills next week so check back. In the meantime for more information on the Senate bill or to view the recorded webcast from the mark-up, visit the Senate Armed Services Committee website at:

For the House NDAA click here:


4. VFW Joins Twitter Chat on Veterans Employment: On Wednesday, the VFW joined Acting Department of Labor Secretary Seth Harris and a number of veterans’ service organizations to host a Twitter chat on veterans’ employment issues. Some 361 tweets were sent by 158 contributors with questions about federal government resources, security clearances and expanding military job preference to include spouses of mobilized reservists. For more highlights click here:

5. VFW at National League of Families Meeting: The VFW Washington Office joined the National League of POW/MIA Families for their 44th annual meeting this week in nearby Arlington, Va. The League was founded in 1970 by family members of missing Americans who were frustrated at the U.S. Government’s unwillingness to confirm who was alive, captured, dead or missing-in-action. It was because of the League’s tenacity that the American government began formal recovery operations that would expand into a worldwide mission with more than 600 military and civilians assigned to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Defense POW/MIA Office. It was the League that created and gifted the POW/MIA Flag to the nation, which is the only flag to have flown over the White House with the American Flag. The VFW is a longtime friend of the League and the nation’s strongest supporter of the full accounting mission, having traveled annually into Southeast Asia since 1991, Russia since 2004, and now into the People’s Republic of China, to help U.S. government researchers gain deeper access into their military archives.

6. Korean War 60th: Plans continue to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War armistice in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, July 27. Thousands of veterans from across the nation, as well as representatives from other UN nations, are expected to be present at the Korean War Memorial for the ceremony, which will broadcast live on several cable networks. VFW Posts nationwide are encouraged to share in the commemoration by hosting “Pancakes for Patriots”-type events to honor and help educate local communities about the service and sacrifices made by so many of our VFW members and their families. The current June/July issue of VFW Magazine is dedicated to Korean War veterans, plus highlights our $600,000 donation towards building their national memorial—tops among all veterans’ organizations. More information regarding how your Posts can help commemorate the day will be provided as the anniversary draws nearer.



Without VA Lease Authority, Veterans To Be Denied Care


Without VA Lease Authority, Veterans To Be Denied             Care              

Take Action!


Please Contact Your Elected Officials Today!

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to open 38 new community outpatient clinics, in 22 states and territories, between now and 2017. These clinics will be in leased buildings,   with VA employees providing the services. This same arrangement has worked well in hundreds of existing VA clinics, nationwide. Last year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), an  independent arm of Congress, decided these lease contracts would  become long-term debts of the federal government. In considering  the first 15 leases, Congress, based on the new CBO     interpretation, forced VA to find funds for all 15 leases to cover an entire 20-year leasing period, rather than provide the money for only the first year. The authorizing law only requires the  first year to be funded, with future payments to be managed   through the annual VA budget. Because VA could not pay the entire           cost (between $1.2 and $1.5 billion) in the first year for 15 clinics, this new interpretation effectively stopped all VA proposed leases. This program, both new clinic leases and renewals  for existing leases, is now in jeopardy.

Without these clinics, VA will be denying care to veterans in  need, while making their health care more expensive overall. The cost to the government is far less than construction of major VA  hospitals. Without the ability to lease, from a practical point of  view the change in Congressional policy forces VA to buy land and  build government-owned clinics, or to do nothing. At a minimum this new requirement will add years to the existing planning  process, will delay or deny care for veterans, and is unacceptable to veterans who need VA health care.VA is managing almost 900 existing community-based outpatient  clinics, all established under the prior policy, and operating   under leases. Veterans who receive this care are highly satisfied. In our opinion this successful arrangement should not be abandoned at the expense of 340,000 or more veterans who would be denied               care.

Please use the prepared letter, or write your own letter, to   urge your two Senators and Member of the House of Representatives to solve this problem, to ensure veterans receive the care they earned and deserve. Recently, the Executive Directors of the major veterans service organizations sent a letter to Congressional               leaders expressing our concerns



Now that the State Convention is over and
we’ve started a new administrative year – its time to get back to work
with all our programs, reports, community activities …. and especially

Our newly elected Commander, Jim Golden, said at
the Convention he was ready to jump in with both feet to get his
Membership Program started. That’s great – and we all hope New Hampshire
has another good year …. but, keep in mind, this membership year is
not over till June 30th. The Department is 208 away from becoming 100%.
…. in 19 days — that’s less than 11 members a day! We can do it. You
can do it. Please – lets make it happen!

I am you newly
elected Department Quartermaster and look forward to working with each
and every Commander, Quartermaster, Post, and Member to assist in any
way I can.

It is vitally important for each District and Post officer that has a “webmail” address – log on, claim it … and use it !

they’re not using it – they’re obviously not reading this …. so it is
our duty to help them – get them familiar with it – and show them how
to have webmail forwarded to their personal accounts. District
Commanders especially must step up to the plate and see to it that at
least one person in each Post is receiving webmail.

Please keep me informed and let me know how I can help …. and I’ll do the same for you.

Yours in Comradeship, Service & Patriotism

Gregory P. Lynch
Department of NH VFW Quartermaster
and Post 1088 Quartermaster
1 Dulcie’s Point Rd.
Kingston, NH 03848
(603) 490-5750 cell

Yours in Comradeship, Service & Patriotism

Gregory P. Lynch
Department of NH VFW Quartermaster
and Post 1088 Quartermaster
1 Dulcie’s Point Rd.
Kingston, NH 03848
(603) 490-5750 cell

Rochester VFW Post 1772 Flag Day Bingo Fund Raiser













All members are invited to attend. Post 1772, LAVFW & Jr. Girls  take pride in supporting State & National Programs along with the Commander’s and President’s Special Projects.



VFW Washington Weekly June 7, 2013
In This Issue: 1. New Stolen Valor Law 2. Senate Discusses Sexual Assault in Military 3. MST Bill Clears House 4. Military-VA Funding Bill Clears House 5. House Armed Services Moves NDAA 6. VFW Defends Commissaries 7. Burn Pit Registry Seeking Public Comment 8. Three MIAs Identified 1. New Stolen Valor Law: The president signed the new VFW-supported Stolen Valor Act of 2013 into law on Monday. Said VFW National Commander John Hamilton, “the new law is bullet-proof against another constitutional challenge because the focus is now on the intent to profit from the lie — to obtain money, property or something of a tangible benefit or value — which is what con artists have been doing throughout history.” Not every combat award is covered, but the ones most coveted will now have wannabe heroes facing up to a year in jail and $100,000 fines for each offense. For the VFW statement click here:
2. Senate Discusses Sexual Assaults in Military: On Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing to discuss pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military. The hearing marked the first time that each service chief answered specific questions on sexual misconduct in the military and the committee took advantage of the opportunity to speak at length with all stakeholders about legislative proposals. The VFW has consistently advocated for improved reporting mechanisms and recourse for victims of sexual assault in the military, as well as streamlining the path to necessary health care and benefits for victims. For more information, including the archived webcast of the hearing, visit our Capitol Hill blog at: 3. MST Bill Clears House: VFW-supported legislation, HR 671, The Ruth Moore Act passed the house this week. The bill brings military assault victims a step closer to receiving the care and compensation they deserve. VFW will be testifying on the Senate version, S. 294, introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) next week when the Senate VA Committee holds its hearing on pending benefits’ legislation. Tester’s bill contains stronger language then what was passed in the House, requiring a law change to aligned MST claims with combat PTSD regulations within current VA regulations. VFW has strongly supported this change and looks to the Senate to move the bill quickly.
4. Military-VA Funding Bill Clears House: This week, The House passed the Military Construction-VA funding bill 421-4. HR 2216 is the first appropriations measure to be advanced by the House this session. Overall the bill provides $157.8 billion for veterans programs and military construction in FY 2014. The bill also included several amendments designed to reduce wait times for disability claim decisions to include increased funding for a paperless claims system for digital scanning of health and benefits files to help VA in its goal to end the backlog by 2015. Other Highlights included: * $57.5 billion for VA medical care accounts (this includes $54.5 billion for advanced appropriations for FY 2014). * $55.6 billion in advanced funding for VA Medical programs for FY 2015. * $290 million for disability claims systems * $35 million for TBI and PTSD research * $252 million to establish a single, integrated Department of Defense (DOD) and VA electronic health record system. Short comings include: * Prosthetics research, $586 million requested, $25 million less than the IB request * Medical Facilities (which include non-recurring maintenance), $4.87 billion requested, $698 million less than the IB request. * Construction, $1.2 billion requested, $1 billion less than the IB request. For the IBs press release regarding the Administration’s budget request click here: For more highlights of the bill, visit the House Appropriations website at: 5. House Armed Services Moves NDAA: This week, the House Armed Services Committee cleared their FY 2014 Defense Authorization bill (HR 1960) after a long day of amendments and discussion about military programs. Among the provisions included in the bills mark was personnel subcommittee language that would bar commanders from dismissing all but minor sexual offenses from a court martial, and prohibit them from reducing a guilty finding in a sexual assault case to a lesser offense. The language adopted comes just a day after the Senate discussed similar bills within their chamber with top military leaders in a hearing about military sexual assaults (see item #2). Other key provisions included a 1.8. percent pay raise for service members, rejection of Tricare Fees or higher pharmacy co-pays except for a $4 increase in out-patient co-pays for Tricare Prime beneficiaries. Members also adopted a bill by Congressman John Kline (R-MN) that would allow those beneficiaries to stay under Tricare Prime using one-time “opt-in” feature — DOD is requiring Prime enrollees who reside more than 40 miles from a military treatment facility to switch to Tricare Standard, effective October 1, 2013. The House is expected to vote on the bill next week and the Senate is schedule to begin discussion on their authorization bill as well. Check back here for more coverage of the NDAA as it moves through Congress. For complete highlights of the bill visit the HASC website at: 6. VFW Defends Commissaries: Last weekend the Washington Post published an article defending critics of military commissaries while attacking groups like the VFW who they believe are advocating to save “wasteful” military programs. The VFW first called attention to proposals to gut the commissary system as part of our “10 for 10” campaign in 2011. Now, it seems the opposition is coming after groups like the VFW. VFW will never apologize for advocating for our active duty military, veterans, retirees and their families. To read our entire blog posting, to include the Washington Post article, and our 10 for 10 campaign talking points, click here:
7. Burn Pit Registry Seeking Public Comment: The VA is asking for public comment on a planned registry of military members potentially exposed to open-air burn pit toxins from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the from the first Gulf War. To establish its “Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry,” the VA is required to solicit public comment on the proposed collection of information for the index. According to a VA press release issued Wednesday, the registry will include a web-based questionnaire for troops and veterans to report health concerns and exposures. The 2012 Dignified Burial and Veterans Benefits Improvement Act required VA to establish a burn-pit registry by January 2014. Read more at
8. Three MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Affairs Office announced the identification of remains belonging to a World War II airman and two Korean War soldiers. Returned home are: * Army Air Force Sgt. Charles R. Marshall, 19, of Martin, Ky. On July 21, 1944, a B-24H Liberator with nine crew aboard was shot down and crashed while on a bombing raid against enemy targets in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Of the nine crew members, six parachuted to safety; a seventh crewmen’s remains were recovered near Hadorf. Marshall and another crewman were not recovered, and attempts to recover their remains after the war were unsuccessful.
* Army 1st Lt. Douglas H. Haag, 26, of Louisville, Ky. In early July 1950, Haag, and elements of the 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, were deployed along the Kum River in western South Korea when North Korean forces struck and overran the U.S. positions. Haag was reported missing, and later would be presumed dead and his remains non-recoverable.
* Army Master Sgt. Olen B. Williams, 37, of Verbena, Ala. In late 1950, Williams and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team were establishing a defensive line south of a bridge across the P’ungnyuri River, near a small village in Sinhung-ni, North Korea, when they were attacked by enemy forces. Williams was reported missing in action after the battle. Read more about their individual recovery stories at
As always, we want to share your advocacy stories on the VFW Capitol Hill blog. To share your stories, either fill out our online form by clicking here,, or simply email photos and stories directly to