Begich Welcomes Program to Streamline Veterans Disability Claims in Alaska
Alaska chosen as location for pilot program
In an effort to provide Veterans with more timely and accurate decisions regarding their disability claims, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today welcomed the announcement that Anchorage has been chosen to run a pilot program streamlining the claims process through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Far too many disability claims from Alaska are sent outside of Alaska, which may further contribute to delays. The VA estimates that about two-thirds of all pending claims are backlogged, amounting to over 600,000. This new program will improve the efficiency of the program for Alaska veterans, allowing them to receive their disability compensation sooner and cut back on a significant nationwide backlog of claims.
“Alaska has more veterans per capita than any other state and they deserve the highest quality of services available to them, with the convenience of being accommodated in Alaska,” said Begich. “I’ve always said that if a program can work in Alaska, it can work anywhere, which is why I am pleased the VA has chosen Anchorage to improve the disability claims process.“
Sen. Begich pushed for Anchorage as a test bed and been a vocal advocate for improving the Alaska VA across the board to better accommodate the needs of Alaskans at home as opposed to in the Lower 48 – whether it is health care, claims processing, rehabilitation, or specialty care.
The Veterans Benefits Administration will deploy its Transformation Organizational Model, a program that will improve the use of technology in delivering disability compensation, including expanding online and telephone access. The program will also make improvements in quality and timeliness by changing the way medical evidence is collected and implementing quality review teams, claims triage, and improved paperless communication, to name a few.
Anchorage is one of five sites selected this round as a location for the program, which will deploy by the end of the calendar year. Other sites include Waco, Texas, Honolulu, Hawaii, Seattle, Wash., and Los Angeles, Calif. There are 18 sites currently using it.