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VA announces test of paperless claims processing system

WASHINGTON -- Department of Veterans Affairs officials have selected their regional benefits office in Providence, R.I., to test a paperless system and new procedures to improve processing of veterans' claims for disability compensation.

"This test program marks a major milestone in VA's move to paperless processing," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "It supports VA's transformation of the claims process to ensure speedy delivery of benefits to veterans, their families and their survivors."

The pilot, which initially focuses on compensation benefits, is expected to start at the Providence facility in November, with completion in May 2011. Additional pilots are expected before the new claims system is deployed to all 57 VA regional benefits offices.

The Providence pilot is part of the Veterans Benefits Management System, one of more than three dozen initiatives in progress at VA to "break the back of the backlog." This first VBMS pilot comes after completion of the Virtual Regional Office project collocated at the Baltimore Regional Office in May 2010. VA officials brought claims processors from around the country to Baltimore this past spring to assist in the rapid prototyping of a demonstration system.

Secretary Shinseki has set a goal that by 2015 VA officials will process all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy.

VA officials will provide compensation, pension, education, loan guaranty, vocational rehabilitation, employment and insurance benefits valued at nearly $70 billion this year to veterans, their families and survivors through 57 VA regional offices.