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Is the application process for veteran benefits fair for all?

Veterans Affairs (VA) proposed changing how veterans are able to initiate appeals. The current application process is supposed to be so easy that a simple handwritten note will initiate the claims process. The major advantage of this process is that once a veteran is approved for benefits, he or she will be eligible for back benefits to the date of their application or handwritten note. The problem with this is the efficiency of processing the applications at the VA office. The Department of Veterans Affairs office says the many ways veterans are able to submit their requests actually adds to the already significant wait period. Veterans are often waiting 18 months for a decision! This proposed rule from the VA would require the use of standardized forms to help streamline the process.

Wouldn’t this change actually penalize or prevent veterans who don’t have computer access from filing a claim? It doesn’t seem fair to separate veterans into two groups, those who have internet access and those who don’t. An additional source of contention is that the claim date on a paper file would be the date it was actually completed, whereas if the veteran uses a computer to complete his or her application, the claim date would be when they first began the online application. That is, as long as they completed the application within one year. The reason why a claim date is significant is because of the retroactive benefits the veteran is entitled to. The difference between the date for paper applications and online applications seems to be significantly unfair.

So basically, the purpose of the proposed rule was to increase efficiency with processing these applications. But with this new rule comes secondary effects of creating unfairness to veterans who do not have computer access and also complicating the process even more! Maybe we should stick with the original way. Even though there is a significant backlog, it seems to serve all veterans fairly.

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