Effective August 6, 2013 through August 5, 2015, veterans who have filed an original, first time, Fully Developed Claim (FDC) for service-connected disability compensation may be entitled to up to one year of retroactive disability benefits. The retroactive benefits are a result of a comprehensive legislative package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last year.

VA Aims to Reduce Claims Processing Time

In May 2013, VA announced a new partnership with Veterans Service Organizations and others known as the “Community of Practice” to reduce the compensation claims backlog for veterans by increasing the number of FDCs filed by veterans and their advocates. The Veterans Administration strongly encourages veterans to work with these VSOs to file FDCs, which provide all supporting evidence in the veteran’s possession, such as treatment records and federal and non-federal records. Gathering evidence is often the longest part of the claims process, so when veterans can submit evidence with their claims, it significantly reduces processing time. VSOs can assist veterans with filing FDCs digitally through the joint, DoD-VA online portal, eBenefits (www.ebenefits.va.gov).

Other Strategies to Eliminate Claims Backlog

The Veterans Administration is continuing to implement several initiatives to meet the Department’s goal to eliminate the claims backlog in 2015, including mandatory overtime for claims processors in its 56 regional benefits offices to increase production of compensation claims decisions through the end of 2013. As a result of these initiatives, VA’s total claims inventory remains at lower levels not seen since August 2011.

Veterans can learn more about disability benefits on the joint Department of Defense-VA web portal eBenefits at www.ebenefits.va.gov, and the FDC program at www.benefits.va.gov/fdc/.