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National Work Que: What does it mean?



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In 2017, the VA switched to the "National Work Que" (NWQ).  In theory, this should ease some of the problems between different VARO's.  

Source: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-115hhrg29368/html/CHRG-115hhrg29368.htm

This is what the NWQ means:  


Before the NWQ, the VA's practice was to 
process a veteran's claim at the regional office in the State 
where the veteran lived. The challenge was that some regional 
offices had large backlogs and veterans in those states were 
often left in limbo even if the regional offices in other 
states would have been able to process the claims faster 
because of not being so busy.
    The NWQ is supposed to increase effectiveness and 
efficiency by automatically assigning the claim to the regional 
office with the most capacity. On its face this is a common 
sense idea. The NWQ allows the VA to distribute its workload 
evenly across the Nation to reduce waiting times for veterans 
who file claims for benefits. However, there are some concerns 
about whether the NWQ is actually performing as it should. 
Unfortunately the VA claims backlogs have increased from about 
76,000 backlogged claims on May 2, 2016 before the NWQ was 
fully implemented to now almost, well as of February 4th 
101,000. One has to question whether the distribution of work 
throughout the NWQ is in fact more effective.
    Rather than assigning a claim to a specific employee to 
work the entire claim, the NWQ breaks up the claim into 
individual tasks, such as scheduling a disability exam. After 
one claim processor reviews a file and completes an action, the 
NWQ will likely assign another claim processor for the next 
step. The second claim processor then also has to become 
familiar with the file to determine whether additional action 
is needed for the VA to make a decision. It does not make sense 
to me on how having multiple claim processors completely review 
the same file can possibly save time.

It goes on to discuss the pro's and con's of the NWQ.  One thing is certain:  After Feb. 2017 the NWQ is a reality.  Another portion of interest to Veterans and VSO's follows:


The VSOs used to receive an advance copy of the rating decision before it was 
sent to the veteran. This practice gave the VSOs 48 hours to 
review a proposed decision and raise objections before the 
decision was finalized. But now that the NWQ has been deployed 
VSOs complain that they no longer have a chance to review a 
decision and try to resolve errors before any incorrect 
decision is sent to the veteran. I hope the VA will explain 
what steps it is taking to work with the VSOs to ensure the VA 
decisions are accurate.

This seems to refute that age old process that where you live impacts how soon your claim is processed, or how likely you are to get benefits based on where you live:  


One of the principal fundamentals of NWQ is to ensure that 
veterans are served equally, regardless of where they live. A 
review of claims from 2015 shows that in many instances the 
timeliness of a decision was significantly impacted based 
solely on the state in which a veteran lived. Some were 
receiving decisions in 106 days while others took more than 213 
days, nearly double the time.


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