Matthew: Hello, and welcome to the Hill and Ponton Veterans Video blog. My name is Matthew Hill and I’m here with Carol Ponton. Today we’d like to talk to you about eBenefits. It’s the VA’s system for veterans to be able to check on their claims and look at their medical records online. This is a good start.
Carol and I were talking about how this is progress in that veterans now can access the VA more easily. They don’t have to call the 1-800 number. The VA is using technology of modern era and the veteran can see some of what’s going on in their claim. But there’s a catch.
Carol: Like usual with the VA, it’s good news and bad news. The good news is they finally are trying to get online. When that’s complete, it’s going to be wonderful. But right now it’s not complete and it’s not wonderful. It’s very concerning for a lot of the veterans.
One of the good things about it is that the eBenefits will allow you to go online and get all of your medical records for the last year and see what’s going on as far as the doctors are saying. It also shows what payment you’re getting. It shows what’s going on with some of your decisions. But there’s the catch. In order for anything to get into this electronic modern age site, somebody has to put it there.
You see on your eBenefits site that you don’t have a claim for whatever you file for and it’s because it’s sitting on somebody’s desk in a huge stack of paper. Until somebody actually gets to working on your file for whatever issue it is, usually nothing goes into that eBenefits site. The medical is very updated because it is totally online. It’s wonderful.
Matthew: It’s paperless.
Carol: They are totally paperless.
Matthew: The benefit system says they want to be paperless. The VA Health Administration actually is paperless. So, as soon as it’s input, it’s there.
A lot of our veterans have trouble – and frankly, we do as well – with that in that their VA health records are there immediately, yet any records that are sent in to the Veterans Benefit Administration don’t show up, so we actually get a lot of flak from our veterans saying, “Where did this document go? What’s going on?”
We send all of our documents – appeals, claims, all of those – via certified mail, signed receipt because we too are concerned that they don’t show up. But they’re there, and as Carol said, there’s this element of human input that is still frightening for us, and frankly still delays the system.
Carol: It’s very frightening. I had a client that was furious because she was sure we hadn’t filed the appeal,. and this had been eight months ago. We not only filed them. We filed them twice. We fax and we send by certified mail. We can prove it. She had gotten the congressman to look in. The congressman looked online and said, “There’s nothing there.” They just hadn’t put it up yet.
It’s not that it takes a couple of months. Often it can take years until they’re ready to get around to working on that issue.
Matthew: One suggestion we have for the VA is to timely send out a receipt of a Notice of Disagreement. They send them out sometimes. They don’t send them out on others. As it is now, as Carol said, we’ll send the Notice of Disagreement two times. Sometimes we send it four times. We get flak about that from the VA adjudicator saying, “Why are you trashing this file with all this paperwork?”
We say, “You never told us you got it.”
There’s still a work in progress there as far as how the eBenefits system works, as far as how their electronic system works, when it comes to actually showing what has been sent in, showing what has been received by the VA.
Carol: Don’t necessarily have a heart attack when you look on there. But if you’re concerned, do continue to send letters to the VA just in case. This is one of the cases where they haven’t got any records. If you might send to the VA comments about the concerns that you have, maybe that will help them work on this.
Matthew: This is Matthew Hill and Carol Ponton of the Hill and Ponton Veterans Video blog. We hope to see you again soon.
Carol: Have a great day!