By Debbie Gregory.
With so many of today’s Veterans coming home in need of assistance, there is often confusion, aggravation and helplessness when applying for VA benefits. Most Veterans who separated from the armed forces, prior to 2009, were just told to visit a VA office or call one of their phone numbers, and all of their needs would be met. Understandably, it hasn’t been that easy for Veterans to get the help they need. At times, Veterans have been lost in a sea of red-tape and paperwork. Some have had to re-apply for benefits multiple times due to lost or inaccurate paperwork.
The VA has made several improvements in the last few years in an attempt to make Veteran benefits more accessible to those who deserve them. One major improvement was moving most of the applications for benefits online. If properly utilized, the online applications can make applying for VA benefits a faster, smoother transaction.
Many Veterans are still trying to file applications for VA benefits by using fax or mailed-in paper applications. This can slow down the entire claims process for their application and many others as well. Using paper is slower than using an online application, and paperwork can easily be misplaced. Paper claims require an actual person to receive, file and retrieve a document. File management can take several minutes out of VA employee’s workday for each file they have to handle.
Imagine snail-mailing an incomplete or incorrect Veteran benefits application to the VA. A representative must receive it, notice that it’s incorrect, respond to the application, and mail it back. Using paper, this application could now take several days, even weeks, to make its way back to the applicant, be corrected and sent back to the VA again. This paper application has also taken several minutes away from the VA representative where they aren’t helping other Veterans as well. If the same application had been submitted online, the discrepancy could have been caught instantaneously, and no other claim would have been put on hold because of it. And that claim would have been processed immediately.
The VA isn’t perfect. No organization of its size, servicing as many people as the VA does, will ever receive 100% approval from its patrons. But Veterans have it in their own power to speed up the process by using the online application system where available. For Veterans who do need to apply in person, it is recommended that they arrive with an application form that was downloaded and filled out from the VA website.