Electronic filing soars

posted on

DAV-aided process boosts digital claims 420 percent since 2014

The DAV National Service Department hit a significant milestone in December, surpassing more than 50,000 electronic disability claims filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs for 2016.

In 2015, DAV submitted 30,287 electronic claims and in 2014, the first year of electronic claims filing, submitted 9,610.

Helping to make the claims process more efficient is the Stakeholders Enterprise Portal (SEP), which DAV worked on with developers from its inception.

SEP is a single, secure entry portal that provides VA partner organizations and external stakeholders access to the web-based systems they need to assist veterans and their families. It combines previously independent VA partner organizations—such as Compensation Service, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, Health Administration Center, and Education Service—into one seamless, secure and consistent service.

“It builds exactly what the VA wants to see in paper form,” said DAV Deputy National Service Director for Training Scott Hope, “but you build it electronically and tell the VA exactly what they need to know.”

While DAV doesn’t currently require its National Service Officers (NSOs) to file claims electronically, Hope said training is provided to bolster the capability.

DAV National Service Director Jim Marszalek said that while the new system can create a challenging transition for DAV benefits advocates, service officers in the field recognize the value of veterans getting ratings decisions quickly and efficiently.

“It has been getting better and more reliable every day,” said Marszalek. “It’s better tracking for the client—the veteran—because there’s no chance of it getting lost somewhere. Once you click submit, it’s there in the system and ready to be reviewed. It’s far more transparent and efficient overall.”

The first NSO to file a claim electronically in SEP was D. Brandon McKinney, a senior NSO in Manchester, N.H.. He said the electronic claims process is easier than most people realize.

“When we were only using paper to file claims, it could take 12 to 18 months to see a dependency claim granted,” said McKinney. “Now, when we file through SEP, dependency claims are usually granted the same day, sometimes within minutes of hitting submit.”

DAV is embracing this change, evident by the numbers, Marszalek said.

“We’re very lucky that the people we work with are driven to create the best outcomes for the veterans we serve,” he said. “We want to provide the best service in the most efficient manner. We’re never going to lose the need for human interaction and decisions. But by submitting claims electronically, the ones making the decisions at VA have a better, more complete picture, faster.”