NSOs More Important Than Ever

Filing a disability claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs has always been easier and more efficient with the help of DAV. But seeking DAV’s help may be more important now than ever before with the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program.

Over the past several years, much attention has been rightly focused on efforts to reform VBA’s claims processing system and reduce the unacceptable backlog of pending disability compensation claims. There are now statistically significant signs of progress.

That progress, which has been made at least in part because more and more veterans are taking advantage of the FDC program. The FDC is an optional initiative that offers veterans and survivors faster decisions from VA on compensation, pension and survivor benefits claims.  Veterans and survivors simply submit all relevant records in their possession and certify that they have no further evidence to submit. The VA can then review and process the claim more quickly.

A veteran can have his or her claim processed much faster and more accurately if the package is put together correctly, which is where a DAV National Service Officer is prepared to assist. While it is as straightforward as possible, it can be rendered useless if the claim is not assembled correctly.

DAV’s National Service officers have been intimately involved with the transition, with unmatched access to the decision makers within the VA, and there is no other veterans service organization more familiar with the ins and outs of the FDC program.

The FDC program is unique because the claimant is actively involved in the process, gathering evidence needed to adequately reach a determination. However, the concept is not new. For decade, DAV and other VSOs have been able to submit a complete “fully developed” or “ready-to-rate” claim to VBA. DAV NSOs have long urged claimants to obtain as much of the evidence as possible prior to submitting the claim. However, prior to the inception of the current FDC program, claims considered “fully developed” were handled on a case-by-case basis. There was no formal program with standard procedures or consistency throughout VBA. Even though these claims required less work by VBA and should have resulted in quicker decisions, they were too often treated as just another claim, often sitting for months or years awaiting decisions.

An FDC still requires the completion of several forms and the compilation of records and medical opinions, the VA is rightfully recommending every claimant work with a VSO when filing an FDC.

With this tremendous breakthrough and the increasing need for help with claims, DAV has grown its NSO corps to historic highs, with about 280 highly-trained NSOs on staff around the country.

If you are need of representation, contact a DAV NSO today. Offices can be located online at http://www.dav.org/veterans/find-your-local-office/.