With the backlog of disability claims hovering around 400,000 it seems as if little has changed at VA. New measures implemented by the VA in 2013 include; a new paperless processing system for disability claims, and enforcement of mandatory overtime for their claim raters. Yet the backlog of veteran’s compensation claims, pending longer than 125 days, are as high as ever.
DoD’s recent announcement of their new capacity to share veteran’s medical records with VA electronically is the most promising message to date. DoD maintains a complete medical record for every service member utilizing their own computer program, the Health Artifact and Image Management System (HAIMS). VA requires a certified medical record from the DoD for every disability medical claim that they review and rate. Since the VA’s computer systems have historically not been compatible with the DoD’s HAIMS computer system these medical records were transferred in a paper format.
As of January 1, VA finally has electronic access to these certified military service medical treatment records created by DoD. Having electronic access to HAIMS should alleviate much paper shuffling VA staff has had to perform in the past to gain DoD health records. VA’s goal to eliminate their immense backlog of disability compensation claims by the end of 2015 will only be addressed if government agencies work together as the DoD and VA have done in this situation.