February 15, 2013

IG Calls for Plan with Milestones for New VA Claims Processing System
The inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs has recommended that the Veterans Health Administration develop a plan with milestones for resolving system issues in the transition to a new paperless claims process.

If said that as of last September scanning and digitization of veteran claims lacked a detailed plan and an analysis of requirements. It found issues hindering VBA’s efforts to convert hard-copy claims to electronic format for processing within VBMS, including disorganized electronic claims folders and improper management of hard-copy claims.

VA officials say they have taken actions to improve in the areas identified – although the IG maintains that given the incremental system development approach used and the complexity of the automation initiative that VA will continue to face challenges in meeting its goal of eliminating the backlog of disability claims processing by 2015.

The department concurred with the findings. It recently announced that it was rolling out the new system nationwide at regional offices and that it is working aggressively to establish its new Veterans Benefits Management System that it hopes to use to meet a goal of processing claims in 125 days or less, at 98 percent accuracy, by the end of 2015.

So far 18 VA regional offices have implemented the system and full deployment is expected in 2013 for the remaining offices. The department noted that increased demand for benefits resulting from over a decade of war, expanded access to benefits related to the use of Agent Orange in Southeast Asia, and a simplified claims process for PTSD has been a challenge.