U.S. veterans who have filed compensation claims, waiting for one year, and in some cases, much longer, may finally be getting the action they deserve.
On Apr. 19, the Department of Veterans Affairs implemented an initiative to expedite compensation claims. In short, this means that the VA has started making provisional decisions on the oldest claims in inventory, which will allow veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly, if eligible. This initiative provides a one-year safety net to submit further evidence should it become available and protects the veteran's right to appeal the decision.
For the oldest claims, VA will make a provisional rating based on all current evidence associated with the claim.
These will be decisions based on all evidence VA has received to date and during the time the claim has been pending.
Exams will be provided by VHA in an expedient manner if they are required for a rating.
The veteran has a safety net -- up to one year to submit additional evidence or request VA obtain additional evidence to change the provisional decision.
Any awarded benefits will be retroactive to the original date the claim was submitted.
If no additional information is obtained, the provisional decision will become final after one year (or earlier if the veteran requests), at which time a final decision and appeal rights will go into effect.
The most vulnerable veterans will continue to be fast tracked.
Wounded, ill and injured veterans from the wars in Iran and Afghanistan will continue to have priority through the integrated Disability Evaluation System.
VA will continue to prioritize veterans who are homeless, terminally ill, former Prisoners of War, and Medal of Honor recipients, those facing financial hardship and our most seriously injured.
Fully Developed Claims will continue to receive priority processing.
Veterans can learn more about disability benefits on the joint Department of Defense -- VA web portal eBenefits at www.ebenefits.va.gov.
Military Funerals: A tip of the hat to the honor guards who donate their personal time to ensure that our beloved veterans receive a dignified military salute at the Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman. The American Legion's 14th District posts we speak of are Posts 713, 674, and 193. Their dates to honor our veterans with a military funeral salute are: May 3, June 21, Aug. 9., Sept. 27, Nov. 15, and Jan. 3, 2014.