There aren’t a lot of guarantees in this world. However I think we can all agree that we will all eventually pass away, we will never see Vin Diesel win an Oscar, and if you’re a Veteran, you know that if you call the VA, you are in for a long wait. It’s a reality too many Veterans are aware of in our modern times. Now, my goal is not to shame the VA, that’s not my job…but wait times can get ridiculous. A friend of mine recently called the VA’s 1-800 number and was put on hold for more than four hours prior to hanging up. And while it may seem like I am just making this up to make my blog seem more entertaining, he actually sent me screenshots of his phone during the wait. So, what other options do Veterans have when it comes to obtaining information about their disability benefits, healthcare, and other VA programs? The internet may have the answers.
We find that a lot of the Veterans we interact with are often not aware of the VA website “eBenefits.” Before we get too far along I want to inform my readers that my information is not a result of the first-hand experience with the website. As I am not a Veteran myself, I can’t actually access most features of the site. My experience wit eBenefits comes from what I can obtain as a civilian as well as my interactions with Veterans over the past several years.
So, what is eBenefits? Essentially the eBenefits website is a web portal in which Veterans can access information about their disability benefits, healthcare records, and even enroll in programs for education and housing. I am a cynic, especially when it comes to the VA, and even I was impressed by everything you can do on this site. I was also surprised to learn that it has been around since 2007. I mean the same organization that sends my firm claim files in paper form, and as we learned this week, has a finical management software dating back to the ’70s, actually started a web portal just a couple of years after Facebook was created. (I told you I was cynical.) However, I actually do applaud the VA for this program. Many facilities did not make online access a priority until several years later. As someone who works in social media, I will also say that the VA does a really great job with their social media presence. However, if your’re waiting months to see a doctor for your PTSD, a nicely worded Tweet isn’t going to do you much good. Maybe the social media team can share some of their efficiency with disability administrators.
You might be wondering why you, as a Veteran, should use eBenefits. That’s actually a simple answer. eBenefits offers a great alternative to calling the 1-800 number. Further, you have quicker access to your medical records. With eBenefits, you can see what is going on with your VA Disability Claim, and you can even file for benefits by way of the site. Due to the fact that I am not a Vet and I have no first-hand knowledge of this tool, I decided to ask some friends of mine what their thoughts were on the eBenefits site. My buddy John stated that he found it pretty helpful. He went on to say “I use it to keep track of claims and to get proof of payment, rating, etc.” Further, another friend of mine, Jamie, is the spouse of a Veteran. She states that they always use the website as opposed to the 1-800 number. Further, she states that they actually find it very helpful. As a whole, if you aren’t being represented by an attorney, it’s a good way to stay up to date with your VA Disability timeline. A warning though: you will likely go very long periods of time without an eBenefits update or status change.
Is it accurate? Well, sort of. Honestly, from what I have been told by Veterans, it is better than it used to be. It’s not flawless, but it works well enough for what most people need it to do. When I first started working with Vets, most people complained that it was not very accurate and rarely updated the status of a case. Now it’s not as much of an issue. It’s not completely without issue, but it’s getting there.
So, why would I be telling my readers about eBenefits? Honestly, I have a vested interest in this site because it is helpful for what we do at the firm. Too often we encounter Veterans who aren’t aware of the status of their case. Either they had a representative who didn’t keep them informed or it’s simply been too long for them to remember their most recent decision. Well, with eBenefits, a Veteran can get all of the up to date information we need to determine eligibility for their claim. This includes the status of their claim, their percentages, and what disabilities they have applied for in the past. This can be a big help for our initial appointment.
So, if you have you want to get some answers a little quicker from the VA, check out the VA eBenefits site. It’s free, works pretty well, and can be pretty helpful. If you want to know what we can do to help you with your claim, fill out this form so that we can contact you for a free consultation.