Faster VA Claims

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News May 2014

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki came into office with a plan to prioritize the department so veterans and their families come first.

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When he took office, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki was challenged to transform the VA into a high-performing, 21st-century organization with the focus being our nation’s veterans as its clients.

Writing in a letter at the beginning of the VA Strategic Plan Refresh for FY 2011–2015, Shinseki says the 21st century VA “will be people-centric, results-driven and forward-looking.”

He states in the letter that the strategic plan “calls for a relentless focus on our clients ­— veterans and their families — in everything we do, while maximizing value and efficiency.”

Shinseki also mentions “16 major crosscutting initiatives, which represent the areas of highest importance to the organization and exemplify how the VA intends to execute their integrated strategy.”

Among those initiatives are optimizing the utilization of the VA’s capital investment portfolio, improving the quality of healthcare while reducing cost and transforming healthcare delivery through health informatics.

Assistive Technology

The introduction to the VA Strategic Plan Refresh states how the VA will work together over the next five years to achieve the transformation, consistent with their guiding principles.

The plan was framed to ensure the VA understands the environment in which it operates and its employees participate in the development of the strategy by responding to a comprehensive organizational survey to identify changes that will make the plan a success.

The VA provides high-quality benefits and services to veterans and has to do this in an ever-changing environment. Some of the current challenges include the aging population of veterans, increasing need for care of women veterans, increasing combat-related injuries and the backlog of benefit claims.

Because of these and other challenges, the VA Strategic Plan Refresh states “the VA must embrace and exploit opportunities to increase access to services via advances in technology.”

One of the advances in technology to assist with decreasing the backlog of claims is the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS).

A Digital Environment

VBMS is a web-based, electronic claims processing solution complemented by improved business processes.

The system enables the five-step standard claims adjudication process to include establishment, development, evidence, rating and awards to all be done in a digital environment. It was developed as part of the Veterans Administration Benefits (VBA) Transformation Plan.

The plan is a series of tightly integrated people, process and technology initiatives designed to eliminate the claims backlog and achieve the VA’s goal of processing all claims within 125 days with a 98% accuracy rate by 2015.

It’ll not only assist in eliminating the existing claims backlog, but serve as the technology platform for quicker, more accurate claims processing.

VBMS will also reduce delays resulting from errors in medical exam processing by incorporating Disability Benefits Questionnaire selection into the electronic claims development.

How Does VBMS work?

The VA is in the process of having all claim folders scanned into VBMS and it’ll become an e-folder that can be reviewed within the system.

All claims will be put into VBMS and become paperless. VBA employees will receive their work assignments systematically using the VBMS Work Management portion of the system.

The VBMS system is the claim folder in a paperless form. After the claim folder is scanned by an organization contracted by the VA and located in Janesville, Wis., it’ll stay in their possession for a period of time.

The VBA planned digital, paperless environment will enable greater exchange of information and increased transparency to veterans, the workforce and stakeholders.

A Step Forward

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) National Service Officers (NSO) have access to VBMS to view a veteran’s e-folder, the status of the claim within the VA system, review a completed rating decision prior to adjudication and many other features.

A NSO has access to all PVA clientele and will be able to serve them at any location via VBMS. The web-based system gives the NSO the full story on a veteran.

VBMS will give the officer information on the veteran they’re assisting that previously was acquired through looking in several different VA systems, which would take significant time to pull together. This new technology is a step forward in creating a more streamlined claims process for both the veterans and NSOs.

The VA Strategic Plan Refresh FY 2011–2015 is a comprehensive plan that addresses all challenges and areas of the VA, which is targeted to improve individual performance and service delivery. VBMS is one example of a technology technique the VA is implementing to better meet their goals and serve all veterans.

For more information, contact your local NSO from the roster on page 66 or visit


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