The only way to achieve Veterans Administration Secretary Eric Shinseki's goal for 2015 — that every disability compensation claim be processed within 125 days and with 98 percent accuracy — is to shift to a paperless claims system. And that transformation has begun.
The only way we're going to be able to do that is … to get out of the paper world and into the digital world."
Compensation and benefit claims pending at VA, as of Jan. 23, totaled 852,127 and 65 percent of them — 557,460 — had been filed by veterans more than 125 days ago, which means they are backlogged.
The surge is tied to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and also to court decisions and to VA policy changes that made hundreds of thousands of Vietnam War veterans eligible for compensation for diseases linked to possible wartime exposure to herbicides, including Agent Orange.
VA will introduce an electronic Claim for Disability. It will be available through VONAPP Direct Connec, VA's online e-benefits site. The VDC site currently allows veterans only to request changes online to listed dependents on their benefits profile.
Representatives for several veterans' service organizations complained at the hearing that they have had few opportunities since the reform effort began two years ago to influence interim findings meaningfully.