As part of VA’s transformation efforts, we are implementing people, process and technology initiatives to improve benefits delivery to Veterans – with the goal of improving accuracy and timeliness.
We recently launched a new initiative called Acceptable Clinical Evidence (ACE). This is a joint venture between the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and Veterans Health Administration (VHA). ACE was developed and piloted at VBA’s St. Paul Regional Office and the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. During the pilot, ACE helped reduce the time to complete a Veteran’s Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) from a national average of 25 days down to just eight days; that’s a time saving of more than two weeks.
ACE gives VHA the option to review a Veteran’s existing medical records instead of performing an in-person or telehealth examination to complete a DBQ, expediting the disability ratings process by eliminating the wait time to schedule and conduct an in-person exam. DBQs are medical examination forms used to capture essential information for evaluating disability compensation or pension claims.
When a Veteran seeks compensation benefits, VA personnel review the claim to determine if additional medical information is necessary to render a disability rating. If a medical evaluation or opinion is needed, VBA submits a request initiating VHA to schedule an exam for rating purposes. Under the new process, VHA can complete a DBQ without a medical exam if a Veteran’s existing medical records contain sufficient evidence.
ACE is one example of an improvement to VA’s processes that will help us meet our goal to eliminate the claims backlog and provide more timely benefits to our Veterans, their families and survivors. To learn more about our transformation initiatives, visit our Transformation website.
Samantha O’Neil is a communications specialist with the Veterans Benefits Administration.