The joint Veterans Affairs-Department of Defense Web portal, called eBenefits, has integrated with a new VA claims processing system to help meet a goal of eliminating the huge backlog of VA disability claims by the end of 2015.

The Veterans Benefits Management System now is deployed at all 56 regional VA offices and it supports online disability applications that can be electronically processed. The service includes pre-populated data fields and drop-down menus similar to tax preparation software, according to the VA.

“By filing electronically, any compensation benefits that are awarded will be effective back to the date the veteran started entering their claim information in eBenefits,” according to an explanation of the service. “From that initial claim establishment date, each veteran has up to a year to gather all necessary records and hit ‘submit’ to preserve their original date of claim.”

Veterans who have all necessary information required to start the application process are encouraged to file a “Fully Developed Claim,” entering all relevant information and medical records and attesting that they have no more evidence to submit. This type of claim is processed in half the time of traditionally filed claims.

More than 55 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are using VA health care services, a higher utilization rate than previous generations, according to VA. More information on the new services is available here.

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