Last week, I discussed the “An Act to improve the processing of disability claims by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes,” or “The Superheroes Fighting the Backlog Act,” as I like to call it. In addition to the team it puts together to research the cause of the backlog and how to fix it, the act will also do the following.
- Once this act is passed into law, the VA will have 125 days to process a VA Disability Claim. The goal is for the VA to process 98% of all claims in this time frame—meaning only 2 out of every 100 should take longer than 125 days. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs will be required to report to Congress on their progress with this every 4 months. The Veterans Backlog Reduction Act, which I talked about a couple weeks ago, is meant to help the veterans whose cases take longer than 125 days.
- To help the VA reach their 125-day mark, this act will also require all the organizations that have to transfer records to the VA for them to process a claim to transfer those necessary records within 30 days. This includes military records, social security records, etc.
- The VA will also be required to implement a new training program for new claims processors. All new claims processors will have to be in training for 2 years, with experienced claims processors mentoring them. This is supposed to happen without slowing down the rate at which claims are being processed. Not exactly sure how that’s going to happen. If the current claims processors are busy training a new processor for 2 years, I can’t see how that wouldn’t significantly slow down the amount of claims they are able to process. Making the training more thorough, good idea. Making it last 2 years, maybe a bit excessive. But they didn’t ask me.
- The act additionally states how the VA should prioritize claims. The idea is that some veterans’ cases are more serious and may have a much greater need for their claims to be processed quickly. Some of the top priorities will include veterans who are terminally ill, veterans aged 70 or more, homeless veterans, veterans who have life-threatening illnesses, veterans who were prisoners of war, etc.
- And, finally, the act will require the VA to make quite a bit of information clearly available and accessible to every veteran on their website and whenever a claim is submitted. There must be clear information about the average number of days it is currently taking for the VA to process a claim, the quality and accuracy of the claims process over the past 3 months and 1 year, the number of claims currently pending, the number of claims still pending past the 125-day mark, and the number of claims completed to date. All this information must be for all claims in general and for every condition that has been claimed. In other words, the average time it takes for a claim of diabetes to be processed, the number of completed diabetes claims, the average VA Disability Rating for a diabetes claim, etc.
That’s pretty much it for the Superheroes Fighting the Backlog Act. We’ll keep you updated on its progress through Congress.