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TESTING, TESTING, 123 – New Procedures for Fast Processing?

Last month the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the testing of a new procedure to obtain veterans’ medical records more quickly. Secretary Eric K. Shinseki stated in a news release that the VA is exploring a procedure that employs a private contractor to obtain veterans’ private medical records and transmit them to the offices processing the veterans’ claims. But, how does adding yet another individual into the chain of claims processing achieve the goal of moving a veteran’s claim along more quickly?

The Secretary says he hopes these new procedures will decrease the time it takes to obtain a veteran’s private medical records by one month. Currently, on average, it takes private medical records approximately 40 days to reach the VA. The private contractor’s sole scope of work is to contact private physicians, obtain the records, scan them into a computerized system, and transmit them to the VA office processing the claim.

Currently, VA employees are tasked with those responsibilities, along with reviewing claims files, obtaining government agency records, and many other functions. The hope is that the private contractor will relieve VA employees of the medical records chore to enable them to use their time processing claims. The Secretary’s aim is to decrease the time it takes to decide a claim by “freeing up” the VA employees and by obtaining private medical records more quickly.

How can you help make the process move faster on your end?

When filing a claim for Veterans Benefits, the VA is more than likely going to review your private medical records. You can help by obtaining these records on your own. Your physician will likely require you to fill-out and sign some sort of records release. The faster you sign and return the release form permitting the physician to give your records to another individual (or organization like the VA), the faster the VA will receive your records and decide your claim. Also, if you obtain your own records and provide them to VA, make sure you tell VA that you’ve already gotten all the records, so that VA won’t delay your case by requesting the records again.

To read the entire news release, please follow this link: