The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Aug. 1 that veterans filing an original Fully Developed Claim for service-connected disability compensation may be entitled to up to one year of retroactive disability benefits. The retroactive benefits, which are in effect Aug. 6 through Aug. 5, 2015, are a result of a comprehensive legislative package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last year.
"VA strongly encourages veterans to work with Veterans Service Organizations to file Fully Developed Claims and participate in the initiative, since it means more money in eligible veterans' pockets simply by providing VA he information it needs up front," said Allison A. Hickey, under Secretary for Benefits. "At the same time, it help reduced the inventory of pending claims by speeding the process."
Filing a Fully Developed Claim is typically the fastest way for veterans to receive a decision on their claims because Fully Developed Claims require veterans to provide all supporting evidence in their possession when they submit their claims. Often, this is evidence that VA legally must attempt to collect on the veteran's benefit, which is already in the veteran's possession, or is evidence the veteran could easily obtain, like private treatment records.
When veterans submit such evidence with their claims, it significantly reduces the amount of time VA spends gathering evidence from them or other sources - often the longest part of the claims process. While VA will still make efforts to obtain federal records on the veterans' behalf, the submittal of non-federal records (and any federal records the veterans may have) with the claim allows VA to issue a decision to the veteran more quickly. Typically, VA processes Fully Developed Claims in half the time it takes for a traditionally filed claim.
Fully Developed Claims can be filed digitally through the joint DoD-VA online portal, eBenefits, www.ebenefits.va.gov. VA encourages veterans who cannot file online to work with an accredited Veterans Service Organization who can file claims digitally on veterans' behalf.
While submitting the Fully Developed Claim provides a faster decision for any compensation or pension claim, only veterans who are submitting their very first compensation claim as an Fully Developed Claim are potentially eligible for up to one year of retroactive disability benefits under the newly implemented law.
As a result of these initiatives, VA's total claims inventory remains at lower levels not seen since August 2011. The number of claims in the VA backlog - claims pending over 125 days - has been reduced by 17 percent compared to the highest point in March 2013.
Veterans can learn more about disability benefits on the joint Department of Defense-VA web portal e-Benefits at www.ebenefits.va.gov, and the Fully Developed Claim program at www.benefits.va.gov/fdc/.
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Post 6768 Auxiliary Steak Roast/ Raffle: Members of VFW Northfield Post 6768 Ladies Auxiliary will sponsor a steak roast/reverse raffle on Aug. 17, according to President Dawn Sherma. The event will be held in the post's pavilion beginning at 5 p.m., with dinner served from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person and are available at the canteen or from any member. The public is invited to attend. The post is located at 8584 Olde 8 Road in Northfield. The phone number is 330-467-9722. We're told the auxiliary recently donated a new flag pole to the Northfield Village's new service station.
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Second Indianhead Division Reunion: The Second (Indianhead) Division Association is searching for anyone who ever served in the Army's Second Infantry Division at any time. For more information about the association and its annual reunion in Columbia, Georgia from Sept. 17-21, all are asked to call secretary-treasurer, Bob Haynes, at 224-225-1202, or log on to www.2ida.org/Events_National.htm.
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Your News: Send material about your post and auxiliary to Ron Seman, 7065 West 130th Street - Apt. 120E, Parma Heights, OH 44130-7805, or email: seman.Ronald@att.net.
Keep our men and women serving America in your daily prayers. And remember to send a letter and a package of goodies. You'll make their day. Thanks and God Bless!