BY TAMMY WALTERS
Oneida County Veteran’s Service Officer
Before I begin, I’d like to let you know that on Aug. 16, the Oneida County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the resolution I presented adamantly opposing any effort to regionalize County Veterans Service Offices. They understand the importance of veterans having a Veterans Service Office in their community to assist them with VA benefits and other needs. I sincerely appreciate the County Board’s support!
Now let’s talk about fully-developed claims (FDC). This is a program the VA started a few years back. The FDC program is a way to expedite, or fast track, a disability or pension claim. When a claim is submitted to the VA, their first step is to “develop” it. That means, they obtain a certified copy of the veteran’s DD 214 or equivalent, military personnel file, service treatment record, post-military medical records, and any other pertinent information needed to adjudicate the claim. Considering the VA Regional Office in Milwaukee is working on about 10,000 claims at any given time, developing can take several months. An FDC is a claim that is sent to them already developed. When my office assists veterans with filing claims, we only submit FDCs because we know how much quicker the veteran will receive their rating decision. We will ensure the claim forms are completely filled out (leaving out information in even one block can delay a claim), certify the DD 214 or obtain a certified copy, obtain all medical records, and gather all other information needed in order to ensure the claim is submitted to the VA already developed. That means much less work for them and a quicker response for the veteran.
If a veteran files a claim online, this information isn’t always clearly explained so a lot of online claims aren’t considered FDC claims and they take longer. You can certainly file a claim online but if I had a dollar for every veteran that did and then came to us for help when they got frustrated, I’d have a lot of dollars. I know the VA is working at fine-tuning the online process but I don’t think it’s quite there yet.
Once you submit an FDC, you cannot add any additional evidence to that claim, you cannot add another disability onto that claim, and you cannot file a new claim or appeal, or your FDC will be taken off the “fast track” and processed normally, thus taking longer to adjudicate. If what you want to add is important, it may be worth the risk but if not, it’s always best to let one claim get adjudicated before you file another one.
Please don’t hesitate to contact our office to assist you with filing a claim because that’s why we’re here. If you would prefer to file a claim online, however, don’t hesitate to contact us to get advice before you do.
Tammy Walters can be reached at 715- 369-6127 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Jason Dailey, Assistant CVSO, can be reached at the same number or email@example.com. Or you can contact us via Facebook at www.facebook.com/oneidacvso.