VA Web site lets veterans file for benefits online
By Kellie Lunney
The Veterans Affairs Department has launched a new Web site that enables veterans to file online for pension and health care benefits.
Unveiled last Friday, the Veterans Online Applications site lets veterans apply for disability compensation, pension and vocational rehabilitation benefits electronically.
The site is designed to cut down on the time it takes for vets to receive their compensation and pension checks.
Veterans can also enroll in the VA's health care system online, using the agency's 10-10 EZ form. The VA plans to offer an education application form later this year, and is gearing up to go totally electronic eventually.
Under the new system, online applications will go directly to users' local VA offices, where processing will begin immediately. Local VA offices will then inform veterans of the status of their applications.
The VA has initiated several efforts to improve claims processing. In 1995, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) published a report calling for the use of case management to speed the claims process. It has since reorganized its field offices into clusters that are supposed to collaborate with one another. In 1997, VBA published a catalog of best practices in all of its
business lines and developed a Web site to publish the results.
Last year, more than 2.6 million veterans got monthly disability checks or pensions from the VA, and about 3.8 million people received medical services from the department.