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Helping Veterans Get VA Benefits Faster
Strategic Communications & Research

Helping Veterans Get VA Benefits Faster

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), Benefits Assistance Service (BAS)

To help Veterans get faster decisions on their VA claims, DFC developed a multi-faceted outreach and communications campaign on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), Benefits Assistance Service (BAS) to promote the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) Program and electronic claims submission (eClaims). The campaign strategy included a national TV and radio PSA campaign featuring celebrity spokespersons; branding, messaging, and materials development; internal training for VA employees; partner outreach; testimonial video development; and direct email outreach.

Our Challenge

At the height of the VA disability claims backlog in Spring 2013, over 611,000 Veteran compensation claims were awaiting decisions. As part of VA’s Transformation Initiative to address the backlog, VA created the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) Program, which offers Veterans and survivors faster decisions from VA on compensation, pension, and survivor benefit claims. This Transformation Initiative also marked VA’s shift to an electronic claims processing environment, allowing Veterans to submit electronic claims, or eClaims, online through its eBenefits web portal. The challenge was how to communicate these new programs to Veterans and getting Veterans and survivors to file electronic FDCs.

Our Strategy

VBA’s BAS enlisted DFC tackle this challenge by developing and implementing a multi-faceted, internal and external, communications, outreach and training campaign to promoting the FDC Program and electronic claims submission. DFC created a holistic communications campaign that included:

  • the creation of new FDC and eClaims brand logos and taglines;
    more than 24 marketing materials including an electronic and print partner toolkit (including English and Spanish versions of newsletter articles, promotional posters, fact sheets, a brochure, FAQs, advertisements, web banners, social media content, an FDC Web badge, and more);
  • radio and television PSAs and partner messages featuring Veteran celebrity JR Martinez and NASCAR Champion Kurt Busch, who both donated time for the campaign;
  • an FDC testimonial video featuring Veteran success stories about the FDC Program; partnership outreach to more than 300 VSOs and State Departments of Veterans Affairs (SDVA);
  • web and social media outreach; direct email messages to Veterans within VA’s databases;
  • and direct outreach via a new partnership with NASCAR and affiliated race tracks.

Our Results

Since the launch of the campaign, there has been a 62% increase in FDCs filed with more than 980,000 claims classified as FDCs. The PSAs have earned over $7.2 million in earned media with over 55,942,566 and 298,886,900 TV and radio impressions, respectively. More than half of the claims VA receives are now Fully Developed Claims, and today, Veterans with a pending claim have been waiting an average of 105 days for a claim decision, 177 days less than the March 2013 peak of 282 days. In addition, at the end of 2015, the VA backlog held under 75,000 cases, down by 88% of over 611,000 cases in Spring 2013.

The eClaims PSA campaign also received a 2016 Hermes Gold Award and 2015 MarCom Platinum Award for the categories of Communications/Marketing Campaign and PSA Campaign, respectively.

J.R. Martinez eClaims PSA: Online Claims Made Simple

Kurt Busch eClaims PSA: Life in the Fast Lane

Vets Speak Out: Electronic FDCs Get You Faster Benefits (Testimonial)