December 17, 2010, 08:00:00 AM
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has decided more than 28,000 claims in the first six weeks of processing disability compensation applications from Vietnam Veterans with diseases related to exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange.
“With new technology and ongoing improvements, we are quickly removing roadblocks to processing benefits,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “We are also conducting significant outreach to Vietnam Veterans to encourage them to submit their completed application for this long-awaited benefit.”
VA published a final regulation on Aug. 31 that makes Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam and who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, ischemic heart disease, or a B-cell (or hairy-cell) leukemia eligible for health care and disability compensation benefits. With the expiration of the required 60-day congressional review on Oct. 30, VA is now able to process these claims.
Vietnam Veterans covered under the new policy are encouraged to file their claims through a new VA Web portal at www.fasttrack.va.gov. Vietnam Veterans are the first users of this convenient automated claims processing system.
If treated for these diseases outside of VA’s health system, it is important for Veterans to gather medical evidence from their non-VA physicians. VA has made it easy for physicians to supply the clinical findings needed to approve the claim through the new Web portal. These medical forms are also available at www.vba.va.gov/disabilityexams.
The portal guides Veterans through Web-based menus to capture information and medical evidence required for faster claims decisions. While the new system currently is limited to these three disabilities, usage will expand soon to include claims for other conditions.
VA has begun collecting data that recaps its progress in processing claims for new Agent Orange benefits at www.vba.va.gov/VBA/agentorange/reportcard/index.html.
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