The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Office of Information and Technology (OIT) continues to simplify the benefits process for Veterans, their families, and Veteran Service Officers (VSOs). OIT is reducing the time Veterans spend submitting applications, increasing transparency, and shortening the time it takes to receive a decision from VA by launching and enhancing application programming interfaces (APIs).
APIs are tools that connect different systems to each other in a standardized way, similar to how an electrical wall outlet connects various devices to electricity. The Benefits Intake API and Benefits Claims API are just two of many APIs currently available through VA’s Lighthouse API program. VA Lighthouse supports a growing number of easy-to-use and standards-based APIs that facilitate collaboration with core VA partners such as business owners, developers, VSOs, and Veterans.
OIT operates the Benefits Intake API in partnership with Veterans Claims Intake Program (VCIP) and the Office of Business Process Integration (OBPI). The Benefits Intake API accepts claim documents as PDFs (as an alternative to physical mail or fax) and passes them digitally to mail processing vendors for upload to VA’s Centralized Mail Portal. From there, Claims Assistants enter claims in the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS). Veterans’ claims processing is 5-6 days faster compared to those submitted via paper mail because there is no time-in-transit.
The Benefits Intake API recently reached a milestone of 50,000 digital submissions, each of which represents saved paper, ink, and time. Automatic status updates alert VSOs to progress in documents’ processing, saving them hours each week.
Veteran Service Officers report that the ability to submit documents and receive a tracking number while still sitting with Veterans has improved Veterans' confidence that VA receives the documents.
When VSOs use the new Benefits Claims API to submit eligible claims as data with accompanying PDFs, the API will automatically establish the claims in VBMS. This reduces processing time by about 10 days.
The VA Lighthouse program recently completed successful production tests of this API with the help of a Veteran Service Officer and a Veteran, bringing this exciting capability one step closer to Veteran Service Officers’ desks.
OIT will continue to design and develop APIs with Veterans, Veterans’ representatives, and Veterans Benefits Administration claims processors, seeking out their direct feedback about the claims process. By involving users in research and validation, OIT ensures it is building practical, meaningful solutions to problems and, ultimately, creating superior customer experience for Veterans.
Our commitment to digital and IT transformation is shaped by daily dedication to customer service and the close collaboration of our workforce, managers, and leaders. Ready to join us in improving Veterans’ care? Check out all current information and technology career opportunities on DigitalVA. You can also contact VA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer at 512-326-6600, Monday thru Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or by submitting a resume to VACareers@va.gov.