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Speeding up Disability Applications: Veteran Benefit Teams

As part of our mission to reduce wait times for disability applications, we launched Veteran Benefit Teams (VBTs) in June 2020 after a successful pilot program.

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Improving Wait Times - Veterans Benefits Teams

VBTs include staff such as Disability Services Assistants, Benefits Program Officers and Disability Adjudicators who work together to guide disability applications from the moment they are submitted to the time a payment is made. While it will still take time before this is fully implemented, we expect this to result in faster disability application decisions for Veterans and their families by removing administrative steps and file handoffs.

The VBT pilot, which ran from September 2018 to March 2019, showed positive results:

  • disability application decisions were completed in a third of the time: 17 weeks on average compared to 50.5 weeks; and
  • for all the pilot files processed, more than 300 hand-offs were eliminated between the time an application was received to the time a decision was made.

Other results from the pilot program included:

  • 126 applications for common conditions (mostly hearing loss, tinnitus and cumulative joint trauma) had a decision the same day the application was received
  • Nursing assessments were generally completed by the next day (compared to eight working days)
  • Up to 6 months of time saved on applications in many cases
  • An average of 11 percent increase in productivity

Working alongside VBTs are “Spike Teams” created for disability adjudication. These teams are structured similarly to VBTs and are staffed by employees brought on to focus specifically on reducing the backlog of disability applications.

We will continue to closely monitor the progress of VBTs. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the application backlog, VBTs are another step in our ongoing commitment to better serve Veterans and their families.

Date published: 2020-11-06


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