Veterans and the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) Program

[ PAULETTE ] Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us today We will discuss how you can assist Veterans and their dependents with VBA’s new Fully Developed Claims (FDC) Program I am Paulette Maten and I will be presenting today’s webinar on the Fully Developed Claims Program along with Ms. Amy Canfield This webinar is sponsored by the Benefits Assistance Service known as BAS, the outreach arm of Veterans Benefits Administration, charged with all outreach efforts to educate Servicemembers, Veterans, and their families about VA benefits Please note that your microphones are currently muted, however there will be a question and answer session at the end of the presentation We would like to strongly encourage you to submit any questions you may have during this presentation to the Outreach mailbox: The address is: Outreach.VBACO@va.gov To better serve you, please reference the slide number pertaining to your question During this presentation we will have periodic polling that will allow feedback and allow us to gauge your understanding of the program There are five goals for today’s webinar To explain the FDC Program To demonstrate how to submit an FDC electronically through eBenefits To provide you with the knowledge and tools to help Veterans apply through the FDC Program To show you how a Veteran can partner with a Veteran Service Organization or VSO and To answer any questions you may have about the FDC Program The first item on our agenda is to provide you with the necessary background information to understand the FDC Program This background will include information about the Veteran population as well as a brief review of disability compensation During the main portion of the webinar, we will explain the Fully Developed Claims Program, go in-depth on how to submit an FDC claim electronically through eBenefits, and shorten the claims processing time We will provide a summary of the main takeaways and next steps so you can help a Veteran In this background portion of the presentation, we will provide a general overview of VA benefits to include disability compensation, pension, and dependency and indemnity compensation Additionally, we will touch on VBA’s transformation program which will increase your understanding of the importance of the FDC Program First, I would like to capture how much you may already know about the claims process We are going to take two polls The first poll will ask whether or not you have helped a Veteran submit a disability claim You should see the poll pop up in your webinar side bar We’ll wait about 30 to 45 seconds for participants to respond [ PAUSE ] Ok It looks like a lot of you haven’t had the opportunity to assist Don’t dismay We’ll give you the information you need to assist Veterans The second poll asks about the last time you assisted a Veteran with his or her claim We’ll wait about 30 to 45 seconds on that as well

Ok Based upon the polling…that’s not many recurrent…recent encounters there is We’re glad you’re here to learn Thanks for your participation in the polling Up next is my esteemed colleague Ms. Amy Canfield [ AMY ] Thank you Paulette, as you can see from the pictures on the screen, there are a variety of different groups of people eligible for VA benefits Currently, there are 21.8 million living Veterans, and of those, 12 million are receiving VA benefits right now! Now you may be wondering, who are eligible for VA benefits? Well, there are three main population groups who are usually eligible Looking at the pictures here, you will see the gentleman wearing a ball cap; he is a member of the first group of those eligible VA defines Veterans as those individuals who are discharged from active duty service Next, the next group who may be eligible are Servicemembers Servicemembers are those shown on the left side of the screen right now, wearing the uniform This includes our National Guard and Reserve members And lastly are our survivors of Servicemembers or dependents and survivors of Veterans Individuals in this category of eligibility are usually a spouse, a child, or a dependent parent Now you may be thinking, what are those VA benefits available to the groups I just discussed? As you may or may not know, there are many benefits that we do not have time to discuss in-depth today However, to jog your memory a little before Paulette goes into the FDC process, I will review three of VA’s benefits: disability compensation, pension, and dependency and indemnity compensation Here we go! Disability compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to Veterans for a disability received during service or for a disability they had prior to service but was aggravated by service VA pays compensation for physical and psychological disabilities. These include disabilities such as hearing loss, and post-traumatic stress disorder An important part of understanding how VA establishes the compensation benefit is knowing that VA must establish a link or nexus between the current disability the Veteran has and the injury or event during service that caused the disability To establish this link, VA will request evidence such as service treatment records or private medical documentation for review On this slide, you are seeing the general eligibility requirements VA uses to establish the compensation benefit Once again, the Veteran needs a current disability that relates or originated during the active duty period the Veteran served and an “other than dishonorable discharge” from military service To determine the benefit amount a Veteran will receive, VA reviews multiple factors including the degree of disability, the number of eligible dependents, and whether the Veteran suffered from the loss, or loss of use of specific organs or extremities Now you may be thinking, what are some examples of claims for compensation VA receives? And don’t worry, I’m not going to try to read your mind too much from here in Washington during this presentation but I will answer your question Some of the most common disability claims VA receives from Veterans are: hearing loss, tinnitus, which is also claimed as ringing in the ear, PTSD, and back strain Now compensation is the benefit we’ll be using to walk you through the FDC electronic process today But while we have you on the line, there are two other additional benefits that can be applied for using the FDC process

Veterans and survivors can file an FDC for Veterans’ pension and Survivors’ pension On the screen now you can see the eligibility requirements for Veterans’ pension To qualify for Veterans’ Pension a Veteran must have at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during wartime, and, the Veteran must be at least 65 years of age or permanently and totally disabled You can learn more about these benefits on the eBenefits website Please check it out! Alright, I’ve got you an overview of compensation and pension; now let us look at DIC DIC, which, in long form is a tongue twister, dependency and indemnity..indemnity compensation; I can’t even say it right now Try saying it a couple of times yourself What is DIC? Haha I know, I am reading your mind again; insert a virtual smiley face here DIC is a monthly tax-free benefit paid to an eligible surviving spouse, dependent child, or dependent parent of a deceased Servicemember or Veteran For family members of Servicemembers to qualify for this benefit, the Servicemember must have died while on active duty OR during active duty for training Eligibility requirements for family members of Veterans are a little different The Veteran must have died from an injury or disease related to military service or from a non-service related disease or injury received while receiving VA compensation benefit, that benefit I just you about! In this instance, the Veteran must have been receiving compensation from a service-connected disability determined BY VA to be permanently and totally disabling As with pension, the FDC process is available in paper form but not yet virtually through eBenefits We are working hard to bring you this feature soon So many benefits, so little time! Alright Paulette can you tell our listeners about VBA transformation, which as I understand, it is the reason we have such cool programs like eBenefits and the FDC process? [ PAULETTE ] Sure. Amy moving forward VBA is on the move and is currently transforming the claims process by creating an electronic processing system as well as implementing a new operating model As a result of VBA’s transformation efforts, the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) Program was born To Learn more about VBA’s Transformation you can access VA’s website at benefits.va.gov/transformation/ Before we dive into the FDC program, let’s do a quick poll just to see how knowledgeable you are about the program right now We’ll wait about 30 to 45 seconds for participants to respond [ PAUSE ] Ok, based upon the polling looks like not too many are familiar with the FDC program, but that’s alright You’re here to learn We will now review the FDC process and how you can assist Veterans with their claims While FDCs can be submitted for disability compensation, pension, and DIC, today we will focus on showing you how to file an FDC for disability compensation These are points to keep in mind as we move through the slides Submitting a Fully Developed Claim online is the fastest way to get a disability compensation claim processed eBenefits is the online tool that gives Veterans, Servicemembers, and their families instant access to Department of Defense and VA information With eBenefits, the user can submit Fully Developed Claims online and check the status of his or her claim 24 hours a day 7 days a week

Simultaneously submitting as much information that supports a disability claim as possible will speed up the VA claims process This includes medical evidence, treatment dates, discharge papers, and dependency records Partnering with a Veterans Service Organization can also help the Veteran gather the necessary information to submit the claim more quickly The FDC Program is a new program in VBA’s transformation that is designed to improve service to Veterans and Servicemembers, eliminate the disability claims backlog, and meet Secretary Shinseki’s goal of processing claims within 125 days at 98-percent accuracy by the end of 2015 First, I will provide you some background information about the Veteran population and recent trends VA designed the FDC Program to dramatically expedite the claims decision process by enabling Veterans and their families to submit all evidence and medical records simultaneously at the time they submit their claim and certify that they have no further evidence to submit The Veteran submits all needed evidence at the time he or she submits the claim, such as private treatment records and buddy statements Once the Veteran certifies that there is no further evidence, this allows VA to proceed with the claim without waiting the mandatory 30-days for a response, as required under federal law Since the FDC Program began nationwide in June 2010, VA completed more than 75,000 FDC claims Let’s talk a little bit about eBenefits eBenefits allows Veterans to view information about benefits, apply, and view claims status for disability compensation, pension, and other VA benefits This is the quickest way for Veterans to file an FDC and receive the benefits they earned for their service Additionally, eBenefits users have 24/7 access to view their claims status It is essential that you remind Veterans to register for VA’s online portal, eBenefits Let’s stop and do a quick poll here to see how many of you have heard of eBenefits before today Please use the polling feature in your side bar to answer the question when prompted We will wait about 30 to 45 seconds for the participants to respond [ PAUSE ] Ok Based upon the polling, it looks like a lot of you know about eBenefits Way to go! So now that we’ve heard about the eBenefits portal let’s talk about VA Electronic Claims Submission.Veterans Online Application known as VONAPP Direct Connect (VDC) is a web-based interface within eBenefits that intakes claims VDC pre-populates information and helps Veterans navigate through the online claims submission process by using interview-style questions The information is loaded directly into the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) for paperless processing As mentioned earlier, VSOs can assist Veterans with filing FDC claims What is a VSO? A VSO is an official representative who can help the Veteran through the FDC program by acting as the Veteran’s power of attorney, often referred to as the POA Acting as the POA will allow the VSO to gather required records and evidence on behalf of the Veteran in addition to reviewing the Veteran’s application prior to submission This allows the VSO to check for any missing evidence or information When applying for an FDC online through eBenefits, a Veteran has the option to choose a Veterans Service Organization at no cost who serves as an advocate on behalf of the

Veteran during the claim process [ PAUSE ] This slide gives you a quick snapshot of our current FDC processing timeliness VA has completed more than 75 thousand FDCs since implementing the program, in June 2010 On average, FDCs provide an overall improvement of approximately 50 percent in claims processing timeliness Amy… [ AMY ] Wow, Paulette, geez, I hate following after you I know our audience must be on the edge of their seats as we speak Would you mind helping me go through some of the processes of the FDC electronic process? Everyone, she’s shaking her head right now in virtual land I know you can’t see her Alright so here we go To start, I will be showing you the process from the Veterans’ point-of-view and Paulette will be assisting me That way you will be able to answer questions from the Veteran that they have when filing an FDC electronically through that cool program eBENEFITS which Paulette did such a great job reviewing Additionally right now we want to familiarize you with the electronic claims process, what VA needs to get this done and better serve our Veterans together There are nine steps You see them listed here on the screen Before we dive in to step one, I just want to hit home that the easiest way, the fastest way, to file an FDC is electronically through eBenefits.va.gov, got it? Oh and one last thing, I want you to know…I know you want to hear about step one but because we want everyone to use FDC and eBenefits, it’s important to know right now that the Veteran has one year to complete the application from the time the claims process is started! Yep, one YEAR! That means you could start today, even if you don’t have everything together! OK, because I just threw a ton of info at you I combined step one and two You are welcome! You can see on this slide the details of step one and two, so I will just briefly talk you through instead of reading them Visualize with me now a Veteran wanting to file an FDC, see her sitting by her computer right now wondering what to do next? Great! Well I am going to tell you! As you see, she’s logged on to eBenefits, of course Next, she will look for the “Compensation Benefit” tab Once clicked, she’s going to be reading the legal “terms and agreement” which will pop-up Now she and all Veterans have to agree with this before continuing on Once agreed upon, she will continue onto step two She’s entering a VA file number What’s that? Is it a question I hear? You don’t remember your file number? Do not fret The Veteran can click “I do not have a VA file number” and we’ll get that for you Now that the Veteran entered her file number, we have some more “terms and conditions” to read through Once done, she’s going to click, “save and continue” which moves her onto step three That was painless enough Step three of the process is where the Veteran is given the opportunity to select a representative, which Paulette discussed earlier We encourage all Veterans and encourage you to encourage all Veterans, to request a Veterans Service Organization, aka VSO, to serve as a power of attorney This will allow the VSO to collect relevant document and evidence necessary to submit an FDC electronically Another advantage, the VSO will have the opportunity to review the claim before the Veteran submits it This will ensure that all necessary evidence is complete, and this will result in VA processing the Veteran’s claim faster! Doesn’t that make everybody happy? Right now, on your screen I am showing you a screen shot of what the Veteran will see when she wants to find a VSO in her area Here, the Veteran will select “Recognized Veteran Service Organizations,” and then select either, search by “state/territory” or select a “location” and enter all appropriate information to them Now, I am showing you the screen the Veteran sees when the results come back

Here, the Veteran will be given a list of VSOs to choose from I encourage you to encourage Veterans to write down the information of the person they end up selecting before moving on to the next screen Why? Because you VSOs out there in cyber-land watching this presentation and will now be able to help our Veterans file an FDC electronically!! How cool! We want them to call you Once the Veteran hits select, the Veteran’s chosen representative will be notified Phew- Paulette can you pick-up on step four!? [ PAULETTE ] No problem Amy….Step 4 :The Veteran will start identifying relevant records that verify service history, provide information about service and military pay Here’s a good tip for Veterans: Ensure that all questions are answered, and don’t forget to click save! Step 5 The Veteran should select the type of disability claim On the Disability Records page, the following actions can be conducted: claim a new disability to have a new disability considered for VA benefits, or request increase to seek an increased evaluation of a service-connected disability, or request to reopen a disability, that was previously not found to be service-connected This chart denotes what type of evidence is necessary for which type of claim For example, if the claimant is filing for increased disability, he or she will need current evidence that shows his or her disability has gotten worse Most types of claims require some type of medical evidence that shows that the condition exists, the degree of impairment, and increased severity VA Medical Records are federal records, however here is where the claimant can also request and submit copies of relevant private medical treatment records from his or her private medical provider It is important to note that if the claimant requests VA assistance in gathering medical evidence, his or her claim will not be processed as an FDC Let me repeat: It is important to note that if the claimant requests VA assistance in gathering medical evidence, his or her claim will not be processed as an FDC If the claimant received treatment at a VA medical facility or center, he or she will be prompted to provide relevant information, like the name of the medical center, the dates of treatment…otherwise, the Veteran will be taken to the Direct Deposit page VA’s Disability Benefits Questionnaires are often referred to as DBQs, are a perfect complement to the FDC program and places the claimant in the driver’s seat of the benefits claims process After a claimant submits an FDC, there may be a requirement to attend a VA examination to evaluate a claimant’s medical condition By submitting a completed DBQ, along with an FDC, eliminates the need to attend a VA examination, putting a claimant in a position to receive VA benefits decision in the most expeditious way possible These forms provide medical information that is directly relevant to determining a disability rating and ensure that VA’s ratings specialists have the necessary information to process the claim Who can complete a DBQ? Private and VA medical providers are qualified to complete these forms When filing electronically, gather completed DBQs from your medical providers and upload them through the eBenefits system As stated earlier by Amy, the claimant will need to submit any relevant private medical evidence, which includes things like treatment notes from physicians, hospital records, and outpatient records Because the claimant has up to one year to complete and submit an FDC in eBenefits, if he or she does not have all the necessary evidence on hand, they should save the claim before exiting the application and re-visit eBenefits at a later time to upload the additional information Remember to tell the Veteran to click SAVE to ensure the information provided is not lost When in doubt click SAVE… [ AMY ]

We are almost done! I am displaying step seven for you all now As you can see, there are some circumstances where VA needs additional evidence in general At step seven of the process, the Veteran will submit this additional information and hopefully with the help of all you out there listening The chart you are looking at outlines exactly what the additional information is and what is needed for each of these cases Let’s go over one for fun I’m listening to your thoughts again and hear that you’re all wondering about individual unemployability or IU Cool! If a Veteran was applying for individual unemployability there are two additional forms needed by VA See the last box in the corner there, which matches up with the IU claim? That is where you can see the additional information needed for individual unemployability Continuing on… You can see here some additional special circumstances and the necessary requirements Use this chart just how I did right now, by first looking for the circumstance and matching it up with the additional information This is one of the great ways you can assist VA in helping our Veterans file an FDC electronically VA needs all the information next to the special circumstance in order to process the claim as an FDC, so use this chart It is a super big deal We really could use some of your help in getting this information Now I am displaying for you now the screen the Veteran will see when they are uploading documents which is step eight Next to the screen shot are the detailed instructions of uploading a document Fun fact about how great eBenefits is: after a document is uploaded, the system checks the files for errors. Yep, so if the stars aren’t aligned in virtual computer land and the Veterans document does not upload, eBenefits is going to let you know How awesome! Here we are, at the end of our FDC electronic application The Veteran you are imagining is so excited to almost be done, but step nine is very important Please ma’am I am going to need you to sit back down and review your application Yes, that’s step nine. This page will show our Veteran if any of the information is incorrect or missing And if the information is missing, this page is going to tell her, and let her navigate back and correct, prior to submitting Once the review is done and no errors are found, the Veteran must certify that all the information and evidence to support the claim is enclosed The Veteran in your mind is carefully reviewing the screen, she has now clicked the check box next to the “Terms and Conditions” and she has hit the submit button And at the same time, VA is receiving her claim! And she is receiving a confirmation number and notice at the eBenefits Message Center and a message to her personal email address That’s right! All at the same time She is so excited; she is jumping up and down right now in your head right now As Paulette mentioned earlier, the Veteran at any time can check back on her claim status by logging onto eBenefits! So Cool So that’s it! Those are the nine steps the Veteran will go through to complete VA’s electronic FDC process Paulette, can you go over that additional application information you were telling me about this morning? [ PAULETTE ] Sure, Amy! Now I will review some additional information about the FDC application It is essential to note, in order to file an FDC, the Veteran must submit all relevant private medical treatment records Additionally the Veteran must identify any relevant treatment records available at a federal facility, for example, a VA medical facility, or VA medical center, or Social Security Administration Once the Veteran has filed the FDC, VA will then retrieve relevant records from federal facilities and provide a medical exam for the Veteran, if deemed necessary to decide the claim What types of evidence is needed for the various types of claims? The evidence tables shown explain what evidence a claimant needs to submit to support the claim As stated earlier, previously VA had to wait up to 30 days for a Veteran to respond to a “Duty to Assist notice” before VA could tell them what evidence is needed for the claim …for the claimant to file the claim Now, these evidence tables are available within the application itself (VA FORM 21-526EZ) so the Veteran has access to this information from the start, which reduces the claims processing time by approximately 30 days

Development of a FDC Claim….VA will request the federal records the claimant identifies as relevant In some cases, VA will send the claimant a development letter for more information We have been talking about electronic claims submission of FDC claims throughout the presentation but what does the new FDC form look like? This is a screenshot of what the new paper FDC forms look like VA Form 21-526EZ is integrated into the eBenefits system, but the other two are not yet and must be filled out on paper and uploaded based on the Veteran’s circumstances The three forms on the last slide are comprised of two parts The notice of evidence necessary to substantiate a claim for Veterans disability compensation and related benefits, and the actual application The Notice contains all the instructions, evidence tables, etc., that a Veteran will need to file his or her claim Here is a bit more background on exclusions from the FDC Program, which we touched on earlier A claimant can be excluded from the FDC Program for a variety of reasons, especially if he or she has not provided the required evidence If this happens, the claim will be removed from the FDC Program and will go through the standard process for benefit determination In the event that a claim is excluded from the FDC Program, the Veteran is notified I will now go over a quick summary of the main points we discussed today and provide you with a few resources to help Veterans navigate the FDC Program, but first, I’d like to do a quick poll to see how you heard about this presentation You know the drill….access the webinar poll pop up We’ll wait about 30 to 45 seconds for the participants to respond [ PAUSE ] Via e-mail That’s great Email is the fastest way to get the information out Thank you To summarize what we learned today, we strongly encourage Veterans to file a disability compensation or pension claim through the FDC Program because it allows VA to expedite the claims process Filing an FDC electronically through eBenefits is the easiest way for a Veteran to file, and it makes the process even faster Veterans should request a VSO to represent them in the claims process VSOs can help gather records and answer questions, which makes the claim process faster They can also review the application prior to submission and check for missing information or evidence This ensures that the claim is filed correctly for quicker processing The links above are additional resources for Veterans We can’t stress eBenefits enough! It’s VA’s one-stop shop for Veterans to learn about and apply for their benefits, so go there, take a look, and encourage Veterans to do so as well and to create an account eBenefits even links to the FDC link we’ve included above And, of course, you can follow VA on Facebook and Twitter Before we transition into the Q & A session, let’s do a quick poll to see how much you see how much you feel you have learned from this webinar This is the last one y’all You know the drill [ PAUSE ]

Ok, based upon the polling, it looks like you guys have learned a lot! I’ll turn the presentation over to the Q&A section that are eagerly awaiting to provide responses to the questions submitted during the session and to the outreach mailbox Q and A… [ MODERATOR ] Thank you, Paulette and Amy for presenting the FDC information Just so all our listeners are aware, we will send out a follow up email over the next couple of days with a link to the presentation in case you would like to review it or share it with your colleagues Here is a screenshot of the online webinar tool question and answer function which you’ll find on the right side of your computer screen Preferably, please send all email questions to Outreach.VBACO@va.gov Once again, that’s Outreach.VBACO@va.gov Please note that we can only take questions about today’s webinar and the topics we covered To protect your privacy in this public forum, we unfortunately cannot accept questions or comments about a specific Veteran or a specific claims issue To better serve you, please reference a relevant slide number pertaining to your question, where appropriate We have three subject matter experts today from VA to answer your questions: James Dyer is a training specialist in Compensation Services, Brendan Garcia is a Compensation Services procedure analyst, and Frank Bryceland is an eBenefits team lead Now onto the SME’s for our Q&A session Q&A SESSION [ Q&A Moderator ] Alright let’s get started with our first question Once a regular claim has been filed, can it be converted by the Veteran or his VSO to an FDC with the uploaded addition of all supporting information? [ BRENDAN ] That’s a good question Once a claim has been submitted, you can no longer add additional information if you want to keep it in the FDC program However, on eBenefits, you can stop and save your work at any time, come back within one year, and submit all information, while at the same time saving your date of claim Once you have finally submitted it, however, it will start processing [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok [ Q&A MODERATOR ] That’s great, Brendan, thanks [ JAMES ] Yes, submitting the Disability Questionnaire along with the FDC will expedite, and in most cases eliminate the exam portion of the process [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok, great Our next question is how easy is it to file a claim on eBenefits? [ FRANK ] It’s very easy Once you establish your account by going to the site www.eBenefits.va.gov you click on “Register.” Once you have established your account, you’ll see a tab named “Apply for Benefits.” Simply go on there and process the nine different steps you learned about, and it’s very easy, and you establish that there’s a claim there, even if you come back within a year to upload more information and evidence [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Another question we have coming in: If a claim is filed as an FDC and it doesn’t meet the criteria, what happens in the claim? [ BRENDAN ] If you file a claim as an FDC, and VA determines that more information or evidence is needed to process the claim, it will remove the claim from the FDC program and process it routinely [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Let’s hold for a couple of seconds while we review or take a look at some of the

incoming questions [ PAUSE ] [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright we just got another question in Will filing an FDC ensure a higher disability rating or simply a quicker response from VA? [ JAMES ] Let’s make sure that we are all on the same page The FDC program is simply a streamline processing tool that will eliminate the long wait in place currently It has nothing to do with the actual rate schedule or higher disability itself [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright, next question If a claim is removed from the FDC program, is there a way to re-enroll in the FDC program? [ JAMES ] Unfortunately once the claim has been removed from the FDC program, it must be, it will be done through the regular claims process Thanks, James [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Next question coming in: If I am not happy with my decision on my FDC, do I have the same appeal rights as if I filed a regular claim? [ BRENDAN ] Yes You still have the same appeal rights as if you filed your claim under the regular process You will have up to one year from the day the decision to file a notice of disagreement with VA [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Great It looks like we have a couple of questions about eBenefits Here is the next question How hard is it to upload documents and/or evidence into eBenefits? [ FRANK ] It’s not very hard at all You go back and view the status of the claim you submitted, and down towards the bottom right hand side you’ll see two tabs that allow you to upload documents The restrictions are each document can be no larger than five megabytes each and you can send two documents at a time and there’s no restriction on how many times you can go back to load more documents But as an example, let’s say your medical records have 10 documents and you have it as a PDF file That one, if it’s less than five megs, could be uploaded in that one tab, and then any other, like an x-ray, can be uploaded in the other Again, two documents at a time, five megabytes each, no restriction on number of times you can upload documents [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright Let’s take a quick look and see some of the other questions that are coming in [ PAUSE ] Alright We have another question coming in Is the Veteran’s date of claim established when they first save the FDC or is it established when the “Submit” button is finally pushed? [ BRENDAN ] That’s a great question The date of claim is saved when the first initial information is entered into eBenefits and the claim is established Once you have established the claim, you have up to one year to submit all the information and evidence you want to submit and final submit the claim to VA on eBenefits [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright Here’s the next question Is there income limits for DIC? [ JAMES ] No There is no income restriction for DIC claims [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright Can evidence documents be from non-military care facilities? [ BRENDAN ] Yes, you may submit medical evidence from your private physician or any private treatment that you received as well as treatment received at VA facilities or while in the military Thanks, Brendan [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok we have a couple more eBenefits questions Can an FDC be submitted with just a basic account in eBenefits, or do they need a premium account in eBenefits? [ FRANK ] Both for the upload of documents, apply for benefits, and view a claim status, you must

have a premium or also known as a Level Two, the highest level, premium eBenefits account [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright we have another eBenefits question coming in Can a surviving spouse create an eBenefits account? [ FRANK ] Yes we encourage survivors to create an eBenefits account They must use their own social security number, date of birth, and information because DIC payment history and when they are able to submit a DIC claim will be important for them to do this through eBenefits [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright, it looks like this next question is for James How can you become a VSO? [ JAMES ] That’s a good question There are several steps I would encourage any person that wishes to represent Veterans as a Veterans Service Officer to contact a local Veterans Service Organization and they will provide further steps to become an accredited Veterans Service Officer [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Let’s take a moment to go through some of the questions that are being submitted right now [ PAUSE ] Alright our next question is coming in through our…[ INCOMPREHENSIBLE ] Federal records [ JAMES ] That’s a very good question and unique to the FDC program as you learned during the webinar Any evidence that’s required to be sought out by the agency with a 21-4142 is not allowed for one exception Vet records are considered federal records and we will process and keep the claim in the FDC program to go out and retrieve records from the Vet centers [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok thanks Our next question: Is it too late to request a VSO once you’ve applied online? [ BRENDAN ] No, it is not too late to request a VSO if you’ve already filed a claim online You can do this through eBenefits or by visiting your VSO and requesting that they fill out a Power of Attorney form [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright looks like we have a couple more eBenefits questions coming in Does an eBenefits premium account cost money? [ FRANK ] No, there is no charge for either a basic account or a premium account or anything that we do in eBenefits Totally free to the Veteran, Servicemember, and dependents [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Great Looks like we have another question for eBenefits Is there a size limit to attachments that can be uploaded? [ FRANK ] Yes, again there’s a restriction The size of one document, and we can upload two at a time, each document can be up to 5 megabytes each And there’s no limit to the number of times you upload documents [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok great We are going to hold for a few seconds as we take a look at some questions that are coming in [ PAUSE ] [ PAUSE ] [ PAUSE ] [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright, looks like we have a question about the FDC process Can you withdraw the initial claim and resubmit? [ JAMES ] [ UNINTELLIGIBLE ]…when you do withdraw a claim…the date of claim that was protected from the previous claim [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok great Our next question is the information we enter encrypted and protected? [ BRENDAN ] Yes, not only by password when you get in but by the various security programs within the database on the server And again it’s a portal so it’s not holding data, it’s just retrieving data securely from other programs Also there’s another question: please tell us what a Level Two account is

We consider a Level One account a “basic” account, or a Level Two account a “premium” account So it’s not only a basic, but that’s a level one, or a premium, that’s a level two [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok we have another question coming in as well If a Veteran files within one year of separation from service what will the effective date of the claim be? [ BRENDAN ] If a Veteran files within one year of separation from service, the effective date can be up to one year from the date of separation, depending on the circumstances [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright there’s another question Is having a VSO or Power of Attorney necessary? [ JAMES ] It’s not necessary but we do encourage using our power of attorney and officers because they have a lot of experience in helping our Veterans and we encourage you to use them as a resource [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright looks like this next question is pretty popular: How long does it take to complete an FDC? [ BRENDAN ] Yes, an FDC right now is processed nationally in 129 days That’s approximately half the time it takes to process a routine claim VA is currently aiming to bring this down to 90 days average time to complete and we are getting closer to this all the time [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok, that’s great Our next question: Can a private physician complete a DBQ for a Vet who is filing a new or original claim? [ JAMES ] Yes, there are only eight DBQs that are restricted for VHA only We do encourage private physicians to fill out the DBQs [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Our next question: How do Veterans without access to the internet file an FDC? [ BRENDAN ] That’s a great question We still accept paper copies of FDCs that can be mailed in to your local regional office or you can seek help from a VSO in filing an FDC if you do not have internet access [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Another question: how do I turn my paper documents into an electronic format to submit? [ JAMES ] Good question Once you have a paper document you would need to scan it into an electronic file and follow the instructions on eBenefits to upload a document [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok great Can newly discharged Veterans use the FDC system? [ FRANK ] Yes, without a doubt, it’s encouraged that they file a claim before they are out of service and get it processed, and they can use eBenefits to file the claim [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok great, looks like this next question is for Frank as well How do I obtain my [ UNINTELLIGIBLE ]? [ FRANK ] Ok good question because it made life easier for those Veterans looking for DD-214 because they had to go to National Archives before When you get your premium account, you can go through and you’ll see the tab for requesting official military personnel forms That file allows you to request a DD-214 tabs official military request a DD-214 or up to about 20 different documents that you want You’re actually giving the system an email and you’re getting an email back that your documents are ready for viewing At the portal you have to do something with that document by the way, save it, PDF it, whatever because when you log out that document goes away The portal does not keep that data in there [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright our next question: Do Veterans need to be seen at a VA hospital to apply for VA compensation benefits? [ BRENDAN ] No, Veterans do not need to be seen at a VA hospital to apply for compensation benefits They can submit records from their private physician [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok it looks like we have a couple of questions about the paper form Where can I get access to fill out the paper version? [ JAMES ] You can use the paper forms They’re available at the VA website, VONAPP They can go to www.va.gov and print out the VA forms they are looking for [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok great This next question: Can you file a claim for PTSD as an FDC? [ JAMES ] Yes, as you saw in the presentation, using the special circumstances you just need to

ensure that you file the required forms, as necessary [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok let’s hold for a couple of seconds while we check in on some of the questions being submitted [ PAUSE ] Looks like we have another eBenefits question What is the difference between a premium and basic account? [ FRANK ] Well a basic account gives very limited access Really the basic level one account will allow you to see some links, some favorite sites, and access to the VA home loans certificate of eligibility document Other than that, every other feature requires a premium account, to view your claims status, apply for benefits, so many of the features So we always recommend that someone always get the premium level two account because the basic level one account is very limited [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Ok it looks like we have another question coming in If submitting an FDC will it automatically be taken out of the FDC process if a physician’s name is provided on a VA form 21-4142 for Pension claims? [ BRENDAN ] If you submit a VA form 21-4142 your claim cannot remain in the FDC program This is because VA must go out and provide this information If you want to stay in the FDC program, you should obtain the medical records prior to applying and submit those along with your FDC application [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright our next question about eBenefits: Does it cost anything to get your DD-214? [ FRANK ] No and that’s a great question There may be other methods that cost money, but in eBenefits it goes through official military personnel file, it’s absolutely free, and you should be able to get a DD-214 within a few minutes [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Next question: What types of things can a VSO do for my claim? Should I meet with a VSO prior to sending in my claim? [ JAMES ] Yes, there are numerous things that a VSO can do for you We recommend that you do meet with a Veterans Service Officer before and prior to submitting your claim [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Great Looks like we have another question: If you already have an FDC application in the process, will creating an account on eBenefits.va.gov have any effect on the original application? [ BRENDAN ] That’s a good question Simply creating an account on eBenefits will not have any negative effect on your FDC application and process However it will allow you to go on eBenefits and check the status of that claim [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Let’s look back and see some of the other questions coming in [ PAUSE ] Using the SEP program, can I upload the Veteran’s application and submit it? [ FRANK ] As a VSO you can assist your client in filling out the application or form but you cannot submit it It has to be signed by and submitted by the Veteran and submit it In the future we plan VSO will be able to help their client and actually submit the documents and upload anything for the Veteran [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright Can a Veteran change their VSO in the process? [ BRENDAN ] Yes, you can change your VSO at any time by filing a new VA form 21-22 or by contacting the new VSO you’d like to use and having them fill the form while you sign it [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright please hold while we look into some of the other questions that are being submitted [ PAUSE ]

[ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright there’s another question coming in So does VA not need any hard copy documents in deciding my claim? [ FRANK ] Correct Once they use the VDC process in filing a claim, uploading evidence and supporting documents, it’s all electronic They will not need any hard copy documents [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Please hold while we take a look at some of the other questions coming in [ PAUSE ] [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright does VBA have a preference of VA physicians as opposed to private providers for information on claims? [ JAMES ] That’s a good question We as an agency do not have a preference to the medical evidence we receive [ Q&A MODERATOR ] Alright well it looks like we’ve had quite a few questions coming in That concludes our Question and Answer session I’ll now turn it back to the summary of slides [ MODERATOR ] Great Thank you so much to everyone for your wonderful questions It’s been a very engaging dialogue I would like to reiterate that we were only able to answer questions regarding the content of today’s webinar to protect your privacy We were unable to answer questions that contained personal information And now to Paulette to conclude this webinar [ PAULETTE ] Thanks, Anne Marie I’d also like to thank you for participating in the polling sessions as well We hope you found this webinar to be helpful, and that you will be able to apply the knowledge you’ve learned today to help our nation’s heroes access the benefits they’ve earned and deserve We will send out a follow-up e-mail inviting you to complete the webinar evaluation We ask that you complete this evaluation because we value your feedback, and would like to continue to improve our webinars and address topics that are of interest to you Thanks again and have a wonderful day