Improving the Timeliness of Disability Benefits to Veterans, their Spouses, and Survivors
Business Process & Strategy

Improving the Timeliness of Disability Benefits to Veterans, their Spouses, and Survivors

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), Compensation Service (CS)

DFC provides process improvement, training, change management, and program management office support to help ensure that Veterans, their spouses, and survivors receive their claims more quickly.

Our Challenge

VBA administers the Compensation Service (CS) and the Pension and Fiduciary Service (P&F) to provide benefits to Veterans, their dependents, and their survivors. VBA employees working in regional offices determine whether to approve claims for disability compensation and disability pensions. Part of the disability claims process is the use of private medical records (PMR) from the claimants’ health care providers to establish continuity of treatment. Unfortunately, the disability claims process historically has been riddled with bottlenecks, causing significant delays in payments to those who are eligible for them.

DFC is a part of a team tasked to reduce the amount of time spent waiting for a private health care provider to send medical records to the VBA from 40 days or more to 12 days or fewer by providing a digitized and streamlined process for the retrieval of private medical records.

Our Strategy

DFC’s Business Process & Strategy Team has contributed to the success of the project in three main ways. First, we analyzed the existing process in order to prepare recommendations for improvements. We studied the way that private medical records were retrieved at seven VA regional offices and the technology that was used to do so. We also conducted market research and compared the way the retrieval process functioned to changes that would be recommended. In addition, DFC facilitated client discussions to diagnose issues and risks, and on behalf of the VA Under Secretary of Benefits we performed a cost-benefit analysis to evaluate how private medical records could be retrieved in different ways, including the existing paper-based VBA process, the recommended and improved process, and the Social Security Administration’s process.

Second, DFC has provided support to the Program Management Office. VA has a portal for electronic documents, and our team developed the document that defined the process by which VA can request changes to it. We also led the process by which changes are requested and the meetings to determine the status of the changes. Additionally, we created a marketing/informational video depicting the way the program functions from beginning to end in order to build awareness, credibility, and trust in the PMR program. The video also included testimonials and success stories about how the program enabled Veterans to receive benefits more quickly.

Third, DFC created an assortment of customizable training materials that were delivered to more than 500 VA employees. These include training plans, presentations about the process, evaluation forms, rosters, checklists, FAQs, fact sheets, and scripts for trainers. Our team also developed a training plan with goals and objectives, recommended training solutions, and the rationale for delivery of training to stakeholders via the electronic document portal. In addition, DFC developed five eLearning modules with Adobe Captivate that were loaded to the VA’s learning management system.

Our Results

The DFC Business Process & Strategy Team has achieved a number of significant results on behalf of our client:

  • By conducting site visits, stakeholder interviews, and other research, we were able to uncover inconsistent business processes, helped reduce the processing time for patient medical records, and increased Veteran satisfaction.
  • We developed operating procedures for the improved PMR process, which is currently being implemented nationally. By transferring portions of the VA employee workload to vendors, the employees can spend more time processing disability claims and reduce the claims backlog.
  • We successfully trained more than 500 VA employees on changes and improvements to processes, procedures, and technology through the use of training guides, webinars, computer-based learning, and quick tips for users.