This past week, I had the opportunity to attend the 12th Judicial Conference for the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. There were many distinguished speakers who presented, including the Under Secretary for Benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Retired Brig. Gen. Allison A. Hickey. Hickey was proud that the Veterans Benefits Administration was adopting some changes that she believed would help dramatically reduce the claims backlog. The changes include moving to an electronic records system, and expediting the oldest claims (many of which have been sitting for years) to address them first. Claims will also be expedited for veterans The Under Secretary also made a big push for veterans to submit fully developed claims (i.e. claims that are accompanied by reliable and medical documentation supporting the claim), stating that if veterans, vsos, accredited agents, and attorneys helped the VA do their work, they would be more efficient- they also commited to deciding these claims first. There are some additional proposed changes, most involving the use of technology, to work through claims more efficiently and hopefully more accurately. Time will tell whether these new approaches are effective for the hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans waiting for an answer on benefits they have earned and deserve. Of course, the plan only addresses the pending claims, and not the appeals for those veterans whose cases have been poorly reviewed and decided in the first instance, and ultimately, may be sitting for far longer than the new claims. General Information on the proposed reforms is available on the VA Website Press Release Page. More detailed information on theClaims Initiative can be found here: Claims Initiative Fact Sheet Information on the VA expediting the oldest claims first, can be found here: VA to Expedite Claims Decisions for Veterans Who Have Waited a Year or More
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.