Caseflow Certification tool untangles claims appeals
- By Amanda Ziadeh
- Apr 25, 2016
To improve the disability benefits appeals process for both veterans and case workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Digital Service built an online tool that will make it easier to move appeals through the VA’s workflow and speed their resolution.
The original appeals system was built in the 1980s and had been modified and expanded to try to keep pace with veteran claims. Still, the process itself was the root of much of the delay. Each time a veteran submitted a new piece of documentation, the claims process started over. Additionally, the appeals process was opaque and difficult for veterans to navigate, often leading to errors that slowed claim processing even further.
The costs of the outdated technology, manual processes and extensive review policies were mounting. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of pending appeals grew 35 percent to more than 450,000 appeals across the VA, and without an improved system, was expected to climb to more than 2.2 million pending appeals by 2027. According to a USDS post on Medium, delays and miscommunication throughout the system have resulted in 80,000 veterans waiting on appeals older than five years and 5,000 waiting on appeals older than 10 years.
The Caseflow Certification tool is a web application that will automatically detect if the required documents have been added to an appeal before it moves on in the process. The tool is intended to ease manual processes and reduce the chance for errors and delays.
Veterans can log into Caseflow with their Veterans Appeals Control and Locator System IDs and passwords to see whether all the required documents are in their electronic folders. Then Caseflow will help users fill out an electronic Form 8, or Certification of Appeal.
The site was designed using the U.S. Web Design Standards and tested in the VA regional offices.
Caseflow Certification is the first of many applications being built to tackle workflow problems, and USDS promises to continue to improve the tool with user feedback.
Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.