Military Times

VA now taking health benefits applications by phone

Veterans can now apply for Veterans Affairs health benefits over the phone.

The VA published a final regulation on Monday that allows former service members to complete VA health care applications by calling 877-222-8387. 

The line is manned by VA employees who walk the veterans through the process, including providing them information on copayment requirements and third party insurance.

Previously, VA required veterans to apply in person at a VA medical center or submitting a paper application to the department. But the system was beset with problems, creating a backlog of 847,882 applications that stretched back nearly 15 years and included submissions from more than 300,000 deceased veterans.

After the VA inspector general released a report on the backlog a year ago, VA took steps to change the application process, to include removing a requirement that veterans physically sign the necessary paperwork.

It also embarked on an effort to clear the backlog, starting with 30,000 combat veterans who should have automatically qualified for the benefit but were placed in the system by mistake.

Veterans can continue to apply for benefits in person as well, according to the department.

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