Senator Aguon: Backlog of Disability Compensation Claims Drops 44%

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Guam – Senator Frank Aguon has announced that the backlog in veteran disability claims has dropped 44%.

In a release, the Senator calls the drop in the number of backlogged cases a “significant milestone in fully addressing the needs of all our Veterans”.

Senator Aguon says he has been actively pressing “on our local and federal leadership to remember our Veterans when they make their plans of progress.” And  last month, he met with the VA’s Director of Compensation, Thomas Murphy, who told the Senator that the VA is “aggressively working  to address these claims through the VA’s Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program”, according to the release.

 The Senator is quoted in the release as saying that “the continuous efforts on behalf the VA to visit Guam to gain a better perspective on the issues our island Veterans face, speaks to the commitment of the VA to include the needs of Guam’s Veterans on a national level”.

READ the release from Senator Aguon below:

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Backlog of Disability Compensation Claims Drops 44 percent

(Wednesday April 2, 2014, Hagatna, Guam) Senator Frank B.Aguon, Jr., is pleased to announce the following information on the recent news from the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on the progress of reducing the backlog of disability compensation claims by 44 percent, after the claims backlog peaked in March 2013 at 611,000.

“This is a significant milestone in fully addressing the needs of all our Veterans,” said Senator Frank B. Aguon, Jr. “This is a testament to the commitment of our nation’s leaders to continue the transformation of the VA into a 21st century organization, by addressing the complexity of claims processing. I am confident that the backlog of disability claims is on a road toward progress; this is great news for our Veterans as they continue to wait for the benefits they’ve earned.”

On behalf of the VA leadership, Mr. Thomas Murphy, Director of Compensation Service of the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration recently met with Senator Aguon on March 4, 2014, to discuss the VA’s efforts to reduce the backlog of disability claims and to further discuss the VA policies and procedures in aggressively adjudicating complex disability claims.

In addressing the issue of adjudicating claims, Mr. Murphy discussed with Senator Aguon that the VA is aggressively working to address these claims through the VA’s Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program. Claims are considered to be “fully developed” when Veterans submit a VA Form 21-526EZ (paper or electronic) and supporting evidence (such as private treatment records, unit treatment and personnel records etc…). FDCs are essential to achieving VA’s goal of providing all Veterans with decisions on their claims within 125 days at 98 percent accuracy in 2015.  FDCs are the fastest way for Veterans to receive a decision on their claim when Veterans submit such evidence with their claims; it significantly reduces the amount of time VA must spend gathering evidence from them or other sources.

This program further signifies the commitment of the VA to eliminate the claims backlog.  VA has seen FDC submissions steadily increase, and these claims are processed expeditiously.  In addition, VA continues to prioritize other specific categories of claims, including: claims of seriously wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers separating through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System; Medal of Honor recipients; former Prisoners of War; the homeless; terminally ill; and those experiencing extreme financial hardship.

“The continuous efforts on behalf the VA to visit Guam to gain a better perspective on the issues our island Veterans face, speaks to the commitment of the VA to include the needs of Guam’s Veterans on a national level,” said Senator Frank B. Aguon Jr. “I have actively pressed on our local and federal leadership to remember our Veterans when they make their plans of progress. This meeting with Mr. Murphy not only puts the VA’s words into action but it is a milestone that gives hope and reassurance that work is being done to repay our Veterans for their service to our island and nation.”