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Helping service members get started on civilian life

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As summer turns to fall, changes that are even more significant are coming to the Veterans Administration's benefit enrollment program.

The end of a long military career is a life-changing time for any service member. However, the uncertainty veterans experience goes beyond a civilian future, especially when service to their country resulted in a disabling injury. Many of the individuals who filed for benefits leave active duty without a decision being made on their claims.

Recognizing that the best option is to file claims while still in uniform, the Department of Veterans' Affairs has launched the Benefits Delivery at Discharge program. While the timeline shortens for service members to claim disability compensation before leaving the military, the benefits they are applying for can be received earlier.

The streamlined system begins on October 1st. Service personnel ending their military careers looking to resolve disability claims prior to their discharge must enroll in the new program. Next month, enrollment can start 90 to 180 days from separation as opposed to the longstanding 60 days before they leave the military.

The objective for people leaving active duty is to have claims processed one day after their service ends. Conditions exist, specifically the rule that troops must remain at their duty station for 45 days after enrollment to attend medical exams.

Adherence to the new timeline is critical. Claims filed later will see veterans waiting approximately three months for a decision. Service members who miss the deadline still have filing options through the V.A.'s "eBenefits" program following separation. However, that process may take 18 months for a resolution.

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