By Debbie Gregory.
The new Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program is an optional initiative that offers Veterans, Servicemembers and survivors faster decisions from the VA on compensation, pension, and survivor benefit claims.
First-time claimants are being offered retroactive benefits by the U.S. Department of Veterans Administration. The VA is offering this carrot to soften the long delayed decisions on disability claims.
However, there is a caveat. The catch is that they will have to fill out the very comprehensive Fully Developed Claim disability benefit form. Congress approved the retroactive program last year, and the program is designed to shorten the wait for disability benefits that tens of thousands of veterans have been enduring.
Veterans may file an FDC for disability compensation for the following reasons:
- An injury, disability, or condition believed to have occurred or been aggravated by military service.
- A condition caused or aggravated by an existing service-related condition.
As the VA works to reduce the backlog of claims, the FDC emerged as a way to get claims that are in solid order pushed through the system faster. The FDC concept refers to the fact that Veteran disability benefits claims are considered “fully developed” when the veteran has no more evidence to submit, and the only assistance required from the VA is to secure federal records and order any medical examinations.
The Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense have improved the functionality of eBenefits, a joint self-service web portal that provides registered users with secure online information and access to a variety of military and Veterans benefits resources.
The eBenefits application is a key component of the VA’s ongoing transformation to a digital environment for veterans’ benefits delivery, and fully supports the Veterans Relationship Management initiative. The initiative provides veterans with the ability to access information about their benefits anywhere, anytime, and empowers them to manage those benefits through self-service capabilities. Additional functionality and features will continue to be added to the site throughout the coming months.