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As part of its ongoing effort to accelerate the elimination of the disability compensation claims backlog, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced that it is mandating overtime for claims processors in its 56 regional benefits offices.
This surge, which will be implemented through the end of fiscal year 2013, will be used to help eliminate the backlog with continued emphasis on high-priority claims for homeless veterans and those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former Prisoners of War, Medal of Honor recipients, and veterans filing Fully Developed Claims.
“VA is dedicated to providing veterans with the care and benefits they have earned and deserve,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “This increased overtime initiative will provide more veterans with decisions on their claims and will help us achieve our goal of eliminating the claims backlog.”
This is the latest effort in support of the secretary’s plan to reduce the backlog. Last month, VA announced an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for veterans who have waited one year or longer. On April 19, VA began prioritizing claims decisions for veterans who have been waiting the longest, by providing provisional decisions that allow eligible veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits quickly. With a provisional decision, a veteran has a year to submit additional information to support a claim before the decision becomes final.
“We’re committed to getting veterans decisions on their claims as quickly and accurately as possible,” said Undersecretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “We need to surge our resources now to help those who have waited the longest and end the backlog.”
Claims for Wounded Warriors separating from the military for medical reasons will continue to be handled separately and on a priority basis with the Department of Defense through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). On average, Wounded Warriors separating through IDES currently receive VA compensation benefits in two months following their separation from service.
I will be out of the office through May 24 for training in Denver. I will be available by cell phone. Call and leave a message so I can call back on breaks during the training.
For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center, on Hot Springs Boulevard.
The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590, and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office.
The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:
American Legion Post 108: Second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa Street.
American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: Second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa Street.
Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Quality Resort.
Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: Every other Monday, 6 p.m., St. Patrick Episcopal Parish Hall, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Charlotte at 731-1025.
Point Man Ministry (veterans): Every Thursday at 9 a.m., Crossroads Christian Fellowship.
Veterans for Veterans: 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.
Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.
Farmington VA Center: 327-9684.
The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online, or text 838255.