Intro

Welcome to our Big News section for all the latest news concerning Military Disability.

We'll do our best to keep you up to date on everything that could affect your disability. Since the majority of our news will cover legal issues that can be dragged out for a long time, if you'd like an update on an issue, let us know, and we'll do what we can.

Please feel free to comment and submit questions. We want to give you the information you need, so help us by letting us know what you want to know.

This page is strictly for the latest and upcoming news. If you are looking for specific information about the disability system or your disability, see our Military Disability Blog: Advice From the Big Guy or our website, www.MilitaryDisabilityMadeEasy.com, for all the answers you'll need.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Claims Processing Improvement Act of 2013

A bill is currently in Congress that is aimed at making Veterans Affairs employees better qualified and able to correctly and efficiently process VA disability claims.

Once the bill is passed, a group will be formed to research the VA Disability Process and give suggestions on how to improve it. The group will look at the skills necessary to properly process VA disability claims, why the VA’s number of qualified employees is decreasing, and how to best measure the effectiveness of the VA’s employees.

They will then develop a plan that will help the VA produce better-qualified employees. 

The best part about this bill is that the plan will focus on encouraging the VA to employ veterans as claim processors and adjudicators. To do this, a training program will be set up to educate military members and prepare them for a career processing VA disability claims. A scheme will also be developed to properly advertise available VA positions across the various military branches and veterans’ organizations.

Recently, there has been significant buzz about the need for the VA to employ veterans. It seems perfectly logical to me. Our vets need jobs, and Veterans Affairs would be a logical organization to provide them. Any law aimed at properly employing our veterans is a good one to me.

For detailed information on the VA Disability Process, check out our site: www.MilitaryDisabilityMadeEasy.com

Monday, February 17, 2014

Special Adapted Housing for all veterans with ALS

On December 3, 2013, a law went into effect that allows all veterans with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) to be eligible to receive Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) benefits.

The SAH grant gives money to eligible veterans to create a home environment with the proper adaptations to help them function with their disability. The grant can be used to adapt a currently owned home, build a new home with the necessary adaptations, or pay a loan/mortgage on a previously adapted home.

ALS is a nervous condition that gets worse over time and has no cure. It is extremely disabling, and can progress very quickly.

In the past, not all cases of ALS were given a 100% Military Disability Rating, a requirement to be eligible for SAH, if it was in an early stage. Since the disease progresses so rapidly, however, this was changed so that everyone with ALS is given 100% right from the beginning, regardless of the severity of the condition at that time.

With this and the new changes that went into effect in December, all veterans with ALS can benefit from SAH for a much longer period of time. Definitely a good thing.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Additional Purposed Changes to the VA’s Disability System

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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.