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Electronic records may lead to quicker veteran disability approval

The backlog for veterans disability has been growing for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that there are in excess of 751,000 claims pending, more than 457,000 of which have been waiting for approval for 125 days or more. This does not include the quarter of a million who still have their claims under review. One thing that could help solve this is converting veterans records onto an electronic medical record system, as this would easily allow these files to be pulled up in cases and easily reviewed.

VA said more than 30 percent of these claims are now available electronically at regional offices. Incoming paper claims are being transformed into electronic records, something that is hoped will be able to cut down on the wait time for those who have served the country.

“A key element that slows our process is the thousands of tons of paper documents we handle each year related to veterans’ claims,” said Undersecretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “While we continue to expand our ability to process claims electronically, we still have to handle those we receive in paper form— the Veterans Claims Intake Program is our answer to this and helps us move into a fully digital environment.”

It remains to be seen how this will work, but veterans stuck between a rock and a hard place with medical records may need help of an attorney or representative to help speed up the process.

At a recent NOVA conference in San Diego, CA., lawyers representing disabled veterans discussed the merits of employing the Freedom of information Act to force VA to produce a veteran’s file sooner than the seven to 10 months it can normally take. This so-called “C file” is important for veterans attorneys to have in order to know what medical records exist and what other medical evidence may still be needed to prevail on the veteran’s claims.