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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has implemented new online tools to make it more convenient and efficient to apply for VA benefits online.
According to VA officials, their “full-scale transformation in 2015” includes online access to standardized forms to file disability claims and compensation appeals, as well as the creation of a new intent to file a claim process.
The streamlined intent to file process provides veterans more efficient methods to receive additional time to file a claim for disability compensation, pension and/or survivors’ benefits. To preserve a date of claim while gathering evidence to complete an application, there are a few methods to communicate an intent to file a claim to VA. Veterans can appoint a Veterans Service Organization representative or state representative to initiate the intent to file claim process (utilizing the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal), start the claims process online (communicate an intent to file a claim online) or speak to a VA representative.
For individuals that prefer the old school, hardcopy method, it is still possible to apply for VA benefits via “snail mail” (communicate an intent to file a claim by mail). Veterans simply need to download, print and mail the completed “VA Form 21-0966” to their nearest regional office (find your nearest regional VA office). However, with the new online improvements, it is more efficient to apply online.
Veterans were traditionally limited to apply for VA benefits via snail mail, which required more time per claim to both submit and process the claim. The new processes will benefit both the VA and veterans who apply for VA benefits online.
The VA’s improvements to applying for VA benefits online comes amidst various efforts by the department to bring itself into the 21st Century digitally by implementing improvements across the board on its website as well as utilizing social media to provide better services to veterans.