By Debbie Gregory.
In the past few years, the VA has integrated automated online application programs for the majority of their benefits and services, including Veteran Disability claims. But the VA has still accepted more traditional methods of applying for benefits, such as mail, fax, or hand written/ hand delivered submission to continue. Currently, the VA will start benefits compensation for claims retroactively, starting on the date that the initial written contact reaches the VA.
But the VA is considering altering this policy. If approved, Veterans will have to register online or submit a correctly completed, hand written, standard application form in order for the start date for their claims to begin. The proposed change has caused a little bit of controversy, and a lot of Veterans are up in arms about the suggested change.
There is no doubt that the change that the VA is suggesting greatly improves the VA claims process for Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The generations of GWOT and Desert Storm Veterans generally have a working knowledge of computers and at least some familiarity with using online programs. The proposed change will make VA Disability Claims and applications for other benefits much easier for these Veterans. But it is the older Veterans, primarily those older than 65, that will find difficulty and delays with their VA claims if the change is implemented.
Just as active duty military personnel honor those who came before them, Veterans maintain respect and appreciation for older generations of those who served. If the VA were to approve their proposed policy change, they would need to take extra measures in order to ensure that the older Veterans are still well-served. This can include extra help on the website, or somehow ensuring that Veterans are able to submit a claim correctly. There might not be one universal answer to accomplishing this, but if the VA changes its policy, it needs to ensure that they do not incidentally exclude a single Veteran from being able to submit applications for claims, benefits, or services.
On January 4th, Military Connection posted an article titled, “How Veterans Can Help Speed Up the VA Claims Application Process.” In the article, we described how paper records can take up more of a VA representative’s time than electronic files. While we continue to urge all Veterans to submit their VA claims and benefits applications electronically, no Veteran should be excluded from obtaining their VA benefits and VA Disability.