Veteran's Annual Report

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 During this past there have been 6233 original claims sent into the Regional Office for adjudication. There is currently a backlog of 702 claims at the Regional Office (R.O.) and over 387,564 nationwide 100,000 are pending over 125 days. The average case pending at the Buffalo R.O. is currently about 104.7 days. They met their goal for 2016 was to decrease that wait time less than 75 days. Since the beginning of May, 173 claims were processed that were pending for more than a year the lowest level since 2009. 

     Also have numerous claims in the process of appeals and we are still waiting for their results. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has reduced that number by approximately 53 percent to 254,000 claims – while at the same time improving the accuracy of the decisions being made on Veterans’ disability claims. Additionally, on average, Veterans are waiting 100 days less for a decision than they were at this time last year. The Buffalo R.O. has plans to hire more individuals to speed up the appeal claims that are backlogged. 

      We have had 5798contacts and have provided 6737 client services.  This office has submitted a total of 654 claims to the Regional Office during the past 12 months. We have also completed 207 Veterans’ property tax exemptions. This number will increase due to the ongoing return of Active Duty Reservist/Guardsman. 

     Continue the submitting of a fully-developed claim to the Regional Office in order to achieve rapid returns of adjudicated claims to the county veterans. Since I have been in this position of Director Claims submitted time period have been shortened and numbers of veterans coming into the office have increased dramatically.

     We have an established and continue 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 78 referrals and 60 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. 

     Again, the “Outreach” visits have increased dramatically during the past year for veterans or the surviving spouses of veterans that are unable to make office visits, a service they appreciate due to their transportation problems. 

     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. They are in the process of purchasing additional acreage, hopefully will be completed by the end of this year. They are still on track to start construction in 2018 and receive remains/cremains in 2019-2020. 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.

     No new changes to the Alternative Tax Exemptions for “Wartime Veterans” since the last review.

     Continue and improve the Veterans Mentorship Program by increasing the number of Mentors. 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 40 veterans to date with no repeat offenders. 

      Recently chaired a project after the participation of the American Legion Task visitation task force and finding out items the VAMC in Buffalo and Batavia were in need of, the Buffalo VAMC “Kids Corner” was in need of a rug runner, it was donated by the Affordable Floor Covering in Batavia, and Genesee County Veteran organizations along with Wyoming County veteran organizations purchased three(3) Broda chairs for the Batavia VAMC. One of these chairs, the Transport chair they never had and it was utilized two days after receiving it for a veteran to go on a sponsored fishing trip.