VA FILING PROCESS CHANGES - Effective March 24, 2015New Veterans Administration Process
New laws that take effect on March 24, 2014 make significant changes in the way Veterans file claims with the VA. The new law mandates that all claims and appeals begin on standard forms. • The days of being able to informally start disability claims with the VA by simply writing a letter are over and claimants must now file specific forms for claims and appeals. The VA states that abolishing the longtime practice of informally initiating veterans disability claims will be one way of improving the quality and timeliness of processing. • The old informal process is being standardized with a new VA Form 21-0966; 'Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/ or Pension, Survivors Pension, or Other Benefits'. The form is designed to capture information necessary to identify and support compensation, pension and other benefit claims. • The changes affect the appeals process as well. The VA will no longer accept an expression of dissatisfaction/disagreement as a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) unless it is submitted on a standardized form. • When a Veteran or their representative submits the standardized form it will establish an effective date for benefits and the claimant will then have a year to gather the evidence necessary to support the claim. American Legion, D.A.V. and V.F.W. Service Officers are being trained to help Veterans understand and accomplish claims in accordance with the new regulations. • The form(s) may be submitted electronically, on paper or over the phone. The form is electronically available through eBenefits. The form can be submitted there or in hard copy by mail. The form can also be completed by a VA call center representative over the phone. • The new regulations allow the VA to award increased benefits retroactive to the date of medical treatment, as long as the form is filed within one year of the treatment and the required claim form is filed within a year after that. • Veterans may file their compensation claims online. If that is not possible or desirable, use of the EZ forms becomes mandatory under the new regulations. The neww process also requires the claimant to use a standardized form when they wish to appeal a decision made by the VA.
VA Eliminates Net Worth as Health Care Eligibility Factor - posted March 17, 2015
Elimination of Net Worth Makes More Veterans Eligible for Health Care
Washington - The Department of Veterans Affairs is updating the way it determines eligibility for VA health care, a change that will result in more Veterans having access to the health care benefits they've earned and deserve. • Effective 2015, VA eliminated the use of net worth as a determining factor for both health care programs and copayment responsibilities. This change makes VA health care benefits more accessible to lower-income Veterans and brings VA policies in line with Secretary Robert A. McDonald's MyVA initiative which reorients VA around Veterans' needs. • "Everything that we do and every decision we make has to be focused on the Veterans we serve,"¯said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. "We are working every day to earn their trust. Changing the way we determine eligibility to make the process easier for Veterans is part of our promise to our Veterans." • Instead of combining the sum of Veterans' income with their assets to determine eligibility for medical care and copayment obligations, VA will now only consider a Veteran's gross household income and deductible expenses from the previous year. Elimination of the consideration of net worth for VA health care enrollment means that certain lower-income, non-service-connected Veterans will have less out-of- pocket costs. Over a 5-year period, it is estimated that 190,000 Veterans will become eligible for reduced costs of their health care services. • In March 2014, VA eliminated the annual requirement for updated financial information. VA now uses information from the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration to automatically match individual Veterans' income information which reduces the burden on Veterans to keep their healthcare eligibility up to date. That change better aligned VA's health care financial assessment program with other federal health care organizations. • Veterans may submit updated income information at www.1010ez.med.va.gov, or by visiting their nearby VA health care facility. For more information, visit www.va.gov/healthbenefits or call the VA toll-free at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).