VA Makes Change to Speed Up Veterans Disability Claims

Secretary Eric Shinseki speaks with a Veterans at the 32nd National Veterans Wheelchair Games, which are taking places from June 25- June 30 in Richmond, Virginia. Photographer: Ken Holt. Photo Courtesy Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

Secretary Eric Shinseki speaks with a Veterans at the 32nd National Veterans Wheelchair Games, June 2012, in Richmond, Virginia. Photographer: Ken Holt. Photo Courtesy Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

A small change in how the Department of Veterans Affairs processes disability claims could help speed up the cases for up to  40 percent of veterans according to a report in the Marine Times.

The VA initiative, called ACE for short (Acceptable Clinical Evidence, could eliminate the requirement for an in-person medical examination for some veterans. A VA press release describes how the ACE initiative will work:

When a VA medical provider determines VA records already contain sufficient medical information to provide the needed documentation for disability rating purposes, the requirement for Veterans to travel to a medical facility for an examination may be eliminated.

The new program will allow the VA to complete a veterans Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) by reviewing medical records already on file and supplement the information by interviewing the veteran over the telephone.

That could alleviate the need for some veterans to report for an in-person examination.  A 15-month test of the ACE initiative at one VA regional processing office found 38 percent of submitted claims were eligible.

The program is one of many in an effort to eliminate the backlog of disability claims. The Marine Times reports: On average, it takes VA 265 days to process a disability claim. VA’s goal is to process all claims within 125 days by 2015.

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