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VA tackles problem of incomplete claims from local veterans
Glut of bad applications clog the system, advocates say
By Ben Wolford
June 16, 2013
"Any veteran who files a Fully Developed Claim will receive expedited processing," said Bruce Clisby, a VA spokesman in St. Petersburg.The Department of Veterans Affairs has promised to erase the backlog of compensation and pension claims of thousands of veterans in South Florida and nationwide in two years by shifting resources and going digital.
But it is also attempting a lesser-known fix by encouraging "Fully Developed Claims."
Veterans advocates say local VA offices have been bogged down by a barrage of incomplete or meritless applications. The result is that thousands of claims are delayed, often for years, while frail veterans suffer from declining health and financial hardship.
"People were filing claims, and they actually didn't know what they were doing," said Jim Ellard, a veterans services officer at the Fort Lauderdale chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America.
Under pressure from Congress, the VA has rolled out initiative after initiative to try to relieve the glut in its regional offices. This month, it publicized a new six-page form called a Fully Developed Claim, which asks the veteran to certify he or she has no more evidence backing up the claim.
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