June & July 2010 Archive

June 2010

VA Makes Filing Claims Easier and Faster for Veterans Simpler Forms and New Program Reduce Paperwork and Speed Process

WASHINGTON (June 15, 2010) - As part of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki's effort to break the back of the backlog, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is reducing the paperwork and expediting the process for Veterans seeking compensation for disabilities related to their military service.

"These reductions in paperwork, along with other improvements to simplify and speed the claims process, symbolize changes underway to make VA more responsive to Veterans and their families," said Secretary Shinseki.

VA has shortened application forms to reduce paperwork for Veterans. The new forms, which are being made available on VA's Web site at www.va.gov/vaforms <http://www.va.gov/vaforms/> , include:

* A shortened VA Form 21-526 for Veterans applying for the

first-time to VA for disability compensation or pension benefits. This form has been cut in half - from 23 to 10 pages. It is immediately available to Veterans via Web download, and will be available through VA's online claim-filing process later this summer at http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp

* VA Form 21-526b for Veterans seeking increased benefits for

conditions already determined by VA to be service-connected. This new form more clearly describes the information needed to support claims for increased benefits.

In order to make the claims process faster, VA has also introduced two new forms for Veterans participating in the Department's new fully developed claim (FDC) program, which is one of the fastest means to receive a claims decision.

Gathering the information and evidence needed to support a Veteran's disability claim often takes the largest portion of the processing time.

If VA receives all of the available evidence when the claim is submitted, the remaining steps in the claims-decision process can be expedited without compromising quality.

To participate in the FDC program, Veterans should complete and submit an FDC Certification and VA Form 21-526EZ, "Fully Developed Claim (Compensation)," for a compensation claim, or a VA Form 21-527EZ, "Fully Developed Claim (Pension)," for a pension claim.

The forms were designed specifically for the FDC program. These six-page application forms include notification to applicants of all information and evidence necessary to "fully develop" and substantiate their claims. With this notification, Veterans and their representatives can "fully develop" their claims before submission to VA for processing.

Along with the application and certification, Veterans must also submit all relevant and pertinent evidence to "fully develop" their claims. A claim submitted as "fully developed" may still require some additional evidence to be obtained by VA, to include certain federal records and a VA medical examination.

VA provides compensation, pension, education, loan guaranty, vocational rehabilitation, employment, and insurance benefits to Veterans and their families through 57 VA regional offices.

Disability compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to a Veteran for disabilities that are a result of -- or made worse by -- injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty, active duty for training or inactive duty training. Pension is a benefit paid to wartime Veterans with limited income, and who are permanently and totally disabled or age

65 or older.

For additional information, go to www.va.gov <http://www.va.gov/> or call VA's toll free benefits number at 1-800-827-1000.

July 2010

Registration Opens for VA Forum on Women Veterans VA to Help Build Women Veterans Communities and Networks
July 11th 2010

WASHINGTON (July 8, 2010) - The Department of Veterans Affairs opened registration on July 8 for a women Veterans forum that will address the quality of VA health care, the provision of benefits for women, and ways for VA to continue improving access to the care and benefits for women Veterans.

"The VA forum will bring advocates for women Veterans together to learn about VA services and to share valuable information with each other,"

said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "The forum will also give Veterans' advocates the tools they need to help build women Veterans networks and communities throughout VA."

Shinseki and VA department heads will attend the forum on July 28 at the Women's Memorial in Arlington, Va.

Because of anticipated demand, available seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and confirmed registrants will be notified by email once registration is filled. Registration-through the Center for Women Veterans by e-mail at 00W@va.gov -- closes when either all seats are filled or no later than July 16.

The Forum will run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., with morning presentations and an afternoon information marketplace in which participants are invited to move through the gallery and gather resources and materials provided by VA program offices, Veterans Service Organizations and advocacy organizations. There will also be an afternoon screening of the updated "Lioness" documentary film.

VA's women Veterans health conference held earlier in the month will help inform the Forum with the most up-to-date information available from VA's health care system.

Presentations from the event will be made available online. Feedback about this event and announcements on future events will be available to Forum participants. For more information contact the Center for Women Veterans at (202) 461-6193 or by e-mail at 00W@va.gov.

VA has undertaken major initiatives to transform the department to meet the unique health care needs of women Veterans and provide the best quality care at every VA medical center. In addition, the agency is working to shorten the delays for claims processing, improve access to VA health services for minority and rural Veterans, end Veteran homelessness, and ease the transition back to civilian life.

There are about 1.8 million women Veterans among the nation's total of

23 million living Veterans. VA estimates women Veterans will comprise

10.5 percent of the Veteran population by 2020.