Up until recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs had an informal disability claim program. That program was recently stopped, but the VA didn’t have a true handle on how much stopping that program would impact the agency. All in all, there seems to be some discrepancy about what percentage of overall claims these handwritten notes accounted for.
In the petition to halt the informal disability claim program, it was stated that these handwritten notes likely accounted for around half of all claims, which was based on a document in the Federal Registry. The VA Director of Compensation Service says that the percentage should have been in the low double digits.
If the Federal Registry was correct, hundreds of thousands of veterans are likely to be negatively impacted by the program stopping. As it stands, the backlog of claims makes it difficult for many veterans to get the help they need.
Under the old program, a veteran’s benefits would be backdated to the date the VA got the handwritten notice that the veteran intended to file a claim. Under the new rule, the clock for benefits doesn’t start until the veteran submits the standardized claim form. That is something that is likely to make it harder for many veterans to file for benefits; however, a spokesperson for the VA says that the new process will actually benefit veterans.
In truth, a person who is disabled may have trouble filling out the new forms, which are two to four pages long. One advocate for veterans said that the new system is a loss for veterans and a win for the VA because many veterans are likely to going to give up on filing a claim out of sheer frustration.
Source: Stars and Stripes, “VA grossly underestimates paper claims as new forms policy begins,” Heath Druzin, March. 25, 2015