VETERANS SERVICE AGENCY - 2019 ANNUAL REPORT
During this past year there have been 1540 original compensation/pension claims sent into the Regional Office for adjudication. There is currently a backlog of 2750 claims at the Buffalo Regional Office and over 650,000 nationwide, 225,000 are pending over 125 days. The average case pending at the Buffalo Regional Office is currently about 135 days. Their goal in 2019 is to decrease that wait time to 125 days. Since the beginning of May, 75 claims were processed that were pending for more than a year.
This office has numerous claims in the appeals process and we are still waiting for their results. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun a new process for the appeals. Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) into effect 14 FEB 19. This new process also opened up a new way of submitting a supplemental claim or what was called in the past a reconsideration claim by utilizing two new forms.
The office had 5917 contacts and has provided 7425 client services. We have completed 151 Veterans’ property tax exemptions. This number will increase due to the returning Active Duty Reservist/Guardsman.
The office has an established and continues to have a contractual relationship with DSS. This is assisting more and more veterans and their families. The veteran is applying to DSS for benefits and DSS is referring them to our agency to establish eligibility for federal benefits first. This is a substantial cost savings to the county. We have had 92 referrals and 63 veterans and/or widows who have qualified for federal benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This results in a greater reduction in the cost of local Medicare benefits.
Continued participation in the Veterans Mentorship Program. A relationship has been developed between this office and the County jail in order to get assistance to veterans upon their arrest and possible entry into the County Veterans Treatment Court. This has been in existence since 2009. The program has graduated 43 veterans to date with no repeat offenders.
This agency is highly involved with the NYS Department of Labor. The NYS Department of labor has recently assigned an employee to the Veterans Mentorship program this past year to assist veterans going through the court process to find employment.
The new Western New York National Cemetery on the corner of Indian Falls road and NY Route 77 in the Town of Pembroke is continuing on as planned. With the recent awarding of a General Contractor from Ontario County they are planning to start construction in the fall of 2019 and receive remains/cremains in November 2020. This office will continue to stay in contact with the VA National Cemetery Administration throughout the process of development to the National Cemetery in Genesee County.
This office continues to be inundated with the requests for assistance in completing the newest Pre-need VA Form 40-1007. This form is completed by any veteran and spouse to see if they qualify for burial in any National Cemetery prior to or after their deaths.
It is placed on the Veterans Service Agency website for any veteran or surviving spouse of a veteran to complete and send to the National Cemetery Administration.
This office has been in constant contact with the Batavia Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) social worker. This open line of communication allows each and every veteran in Genesee County to not only have the possible opportunity for NYS veterans’ benefits but also Veterans health benefits due to their military service.