This new paperless system has the potential to speed up claims processing, which is painstakingly slow. Currently, the VA takes an average of about 160 days to process a claim, and over a half million disability claims are still pending. Given the sacrifices our service men and women made for this nation, that number is far too high. It is my hope that the leadership at the VA does not view this new paperless system as the end of the reengineering process but one of the many steps towards changing the way the VA serves those who have served us so well.
My Subcommittee heard testimony earlier this year regarding a VA Office of Inspector General report which found that the error rate for disability claims could be 25% or worse. To address this, the new system must also include tools for rigorous quality review standards based on objective criteria. The VA needs to show continuing commitment to get every claim right the first time and make it clear this commitment is emphasized at every level, from the Secretary
down to the frontline claims processors.
Under Secretary Shinseki’s leadership the VA has made great strides in improving the way we care for our veterans and changing its culture into a Veterans advocate rather than an adversary. The paperless system has the potential to be a valuable tool the VA can use to better serve our veterans. Veterans and Members of Congress should applaud this announcement, while still calling on the VA to follow up on this accomplishment by enacting further reforms.