Veterans Affairs Digital Service

Veterans Appeals Modernization

As a part of a cross-disciplinary team, we helped modernize how Veterans appeals are input, organized, assigned, and updated by building out two critical components of the Caseflow suite of tools.

 
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Challenge

Ensure Caseflow, a set of web-based tools to manage Veteran appeals, could meet the new requirements of the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA).

Why

For the past 40 years, veterans’ appeals for benefits and services had been handled by an outdated system called VACOLS (Veterans Appeals Control and Location System). Because of VACOLS, veterans sometimes waited up to ten years for decisions on their appeals, postponing critical mental, medical or dental care.

What we built

Intake: A better way to match paper appeals to existing records

Intake completely re-tooled what takes place after a veteran submits his or her PDF appeal. For decades, the paper appeal moved manually between different departments. Caseflow now automatically takes the input from an appeals form and either matches it to an existing decision record or creates a new one.

Our team built integrations between Caseflow and a separate VA database, CORP BD by connecting to two interfaces: VBMS (Veterans Benefits Management System) and BGS (Benefits= Gateway Services). Talking with all upstream systems ensures it will be the system of record and the first destination for anyone seeking information on appeals moving forward.

Queue: An automated system to assign appeal cases

Queue streamlined and accelerated what handles appeals once they’re entered into the system. Previously, the decision on whom to assign an appeal case to was based on a set of rules, but the process was largely manual and prone to error with too many Veterans’ cases falling through the cracks. With Caseflow, Truss engineers combined data about the Veteran with information from the appeals to develop algorithms that automatically assign cases moving forward.

Our work on Caseflow is open source. View it on GitHub

Our impact

Truss helped change the face of how Veterans appeals are input, organized, assigned and updated. The process is streamlined, digitally maintained, transparent, and faster — years faster, in fact. The goal for many Veteran cases is to now have them processed in 125 days or less.