By Debbie Gregory.
There is great news for Veterans in California. Collaborative efforts between the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) and the VA are resulting in great progress handling the backlogged VA claims. The collaboration, known as the CalVet/USDVA Joint Claims Initiative, has already helped thousands of California Veterans receive healthcare benefits and financial compensation.
Since 2009, the backlog of VA compensation claims has grown. Despite the VA completing approximately 1 million claims per year in fiscal years 2010, 2011, and 2012, the flood of incoming claims continues to exceed the number processed. In 2010, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki decided that any claim in the inventory that was older than 125 days would be considered part of the backlog of claims. The CalVet/USDVA Joint Claims Initiative has allowed claims representatives from CalVet to access claims that are currently pending over 125 day within the VA’s backlogged system.
The California Budget Act of 2013 is responsible for authorizing $3 million and 36 limited-term positions needed to create the CalVet/USDVA Joint Claims Initiative. The 36 new representatives were parceled to form three teams of up to twelve members. The three “Strike Teams” are located out of the CalVet District Offices in Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego. Since September of 2013, the Strike Teams have already reviewed approximately 6,000 claims.
The Strike Teams and the CalVet/USDVA Joint Claims Initiative are responsible for millions of dollars going to Veterans. CalVet estimates that $2,183,532 in lump sum and monthly payments will go to California Veterans every year as a result of the initiative and its efforts. This money will go to men and women who were injured and permanently disabled as a result of their service to their country. Along with providing for deserving Veterans and Veteran families in need, the money will also be circulated back into California’s economy.