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M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, Chapter 2, Section C – Informal Claims Received Prior to March 24, 2015, Communication of an Intent to File (ITF), and Requests for Application

Overview


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:
Topic
Topic Name
1
2
3
Systems Processing of ITFs
4 Incomplete ITFs
5 ITF Data Accuracy
6 Requests for Application

1.  Informal Claims Received Prior to March 24, 2015


Introduction

This topic contains information regarding the identification and processing of informal claims prior to March 24, 2015, including

Change Date

February 16, 2017

III.ii.2.C.1.a.  Characteristics of an Informal Claim

Informal claims were defined by regulations in effect prior to March 24, 2015.  After that date, the concept of informal claim was removed from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regulations and replaced by the intent to file (ITF) and request for application regulations included in 38 CFR 3.155.  Identify an informal claim received prior to March 24, 2015, by any of the following characteristics:
  • any communication or action that shows an intent to apply for benefits under laws administered by VA, as described at historical 38 CFR 3.155
  • an original claim not filed on the prescribed form
  • an unsigned application (except for those received via the Veterans On-Line Application (VONAPP) or VONAPP Direct Connect (VDC))
  • evidence of examination or hospitalization in a VA or uniformed services health care facility for a service-connected (SC) disability under historical38 CFR 3.157 (b)(1), or
  • any communication regarding the death of the appellant in a legacy appeal
    • submitted to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), and
    • furnished to VA by CAVC.
Important:  VA only recognizes informal claims received prior to March 24, 2015.
Notes:
  • Claims received prior to March 24, 2015, via VONAPP or VDC that are initiated but not completed are not informal claims.  However, the date the application was initiated may be considered when determining the effective date in certain circumstances.
  • CAVC ruled that complaints noted by a Veteran during a VA examination (and included in the corresponding examination report) do not constitute an informal claim unless “the veteran sufficiently manifested an intent to apply for benefits for a particular disease or injury.
References:  For more information on

III.ii.2.C.1.b.  Why Informal Claims Were Important

Informal claims were important prior to March 24, 2015, because VA could grant entitlement to benefits from as early as the date of receipt of an informal claim as long as VA received a formal claim within one year of the date VA sent the claimant an application.
References:  For more information

III.ii.2.C.1.c.  Required Elements of an Informal Claim

In order for a communication or action received by VA prior to March 24, 2015, to be accepted as an informal claim, the historical version of 38 CFR 3.155 required claimants to identify the benefit(s) they were seeking, such as compensation and/or pension.
If a claimant was attempting to reopen a previously denied claim or was seeking an increased disability rating, VA also required the claimant to describe the nature of the disability for which he/she was seeking benefits.  A claimant could accomplish this by identifying the body part or system that was disabled or by describing symptoms of the disability.
References:  For more information on
  • accepting a report of hospitalization or medical treatment as an informal claim for an increased disability rating, or to reopen a claim for pension that VA previously denied for lack of evidence of permanent and total disability, see the historical version of 38 CFR 3.157(b), and
  • informal claims for an increased disability rating, or to reopen a previously denied claim, see Brokowski v. Shinseki, 23 Vet.App. 79 (2009).

III.ii.2.C.1.d. Original Claims Not Filed on the Prescribed Form Before March 24, 2015   

Consider an original claim not filed on the prescribed form before March 24, 2015, an informal claim.
Upon receipt of an original claim not filed on the prescribed form
  • add the form to the claims folder
  • send the claimant the correct form
  • create and send a letter to the claimant to inform him/her that in order to establish potential entitlement to benefits from the date of receipt of the informal claim, he/she must complete and return the correct form within one year of the date VA sent it
  • include the correct form as an enclosure in the letter, and
  • do not place the issue under a rating controlled end product (EP).
Important:  The letter to the claimant will be completed under an EP 400.  Once the letter is completed and sent to the claimant, the EP 400 will be cleared.
Reference:  For a list of forms claimants must use to file an original claim for disability compensation or pension prior to March 24, 2015, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.B.1.a.

III.ii.2.C.1.e.  Claims Made by Telephone Before March 24, 2015

Consider an original claim made by telephone before March 24, 2015, an informal claim.
Example:  A telephone call from a claimant indicating intent to apply for benefits, documented on VA Form 27-0820, Report of General Information, is acceptable as an informal claim for the purpose of establishing a potential date of entitlement to benefits if received prior to March 24, 2015.
Follow the steps in the table below to handle a claim made by telephone.
Step
Action
1
Verify the identity of the person providing the information by telephone by asking for the claimant’s
  • Social Security number (SSN)
  • date of birth (DOB), or
  • any other information that might help to establish identity.
Notes:
  • If the caller is unable to furnish this information, or if the person’s identity remains questionable, complete development by letter.
  • A parent or guardian may file a claim by telephone on behalf of a claimant who is a minor.
  • Per 38 CFR 3.155, the following persons may also file a claim by telephone on behalf of a claimant
    • any appointed representative, such as an attorney, agent, or Veterans service organization (VSO), or
    • a member of Congress.
2
Send
  • the appropriate application to the claimant or fiduciary, and
  • inform the claimant or fiduciary that in order to establish potential entitlement to benefits from the date VA received the telephone call (informal claim), he/she must return the signed and completed application within one year of the date VA sent it.

III.ii.2.C.1.f. Identification and Establishment of Informal Claims in VBMS

The illustration below provides an overview of identification and establishment of informal original claims received prior to March 24, 2015, in VBMS.
diagram of the VBMS workflow for processing an ITF

III.ii.2.C.1.g.  Pre-Claim Control in VBMS

The steps in the table below contain the instructions on pre-claim control in VBMS.
Step
Action
1
Obtain the claimant’s informal claim documents.
2
Is the informal claim eligible for establishment in VBMS?
  • If yes, proceed to Step 3.
  • If no, establish the informal claim in Share.
Reference:  For more information on claims eligible for VBMS establishment, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 3.D.1.
3
Log into Share and validate the record in the Beneficiary Identification and Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) by
  • confirming the file number
  • SSN, and
  • DOB.
4
Determine if a record already exists.
If the record …
Then …
exists
update the claimant’s information using BIRLS.
does not exist
  • perform the
    • BIRLS ADD operation in Share, and
    • populate the CLAIMS FOLDER indication field, and
  • create a folder location in the Control of Veterans Records System (COVERS).
Important:  Do not create an actual paper claims folder in COVERS.
Note:  If a folder was previously established for an education or medical claim, do not add the No Paper Claim Folder flash.
5
Collect all the required information needed to establish the claim in VBMS.  Information for the following fields in VBMS are required andmust be collected to prepare for the establishment of the claim:
  • PAYEE
  • EP & CLAIM LABEL
  • MODIFIER (third digit EP modifier, if applicable)
  • DATE OF CLAIM
  • SEGMENTED LANE
  • STATION
  • POA, and
  • POA CODE.
Information for the following fields in VBMS are optional, but should be collected as applicable in preparation for the establishment of the claim:
  • CLAIM TYPE
  • INTAKE SITE (for Pre-Discharge claims)
  • SUSPENSE DATE (for Pre-Discharge claims)
  • SUSPENSE REASON
  • ALLOW POA ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS, and
  • GULF WAR REGISTRY PERMIT
References:  For more information on

III.ii.2.C.1.h. Informal Claim EP Assignment in VBMS

The steps in the table below provide the instructions for assigning EPs on informal claims in VBMS.
Step
Action
1
Open the claimant’s claims folder in VBMS.
2
Select New Claim under the ACTIONS drop-down menu.
3
Scroll down to the Claim Information section.
4
Select EP & CLAIM LABEL 400CORRC – Correspondence.
Example:
example of adding a new claimant in VBMS for ITF using fictious veteran Drew Benny
Note:  The information above represents a fictional individual.
5
Complete the remaining mandatory fields and select SUBMIT.
6
Select the newly created EP 400 – Correspondence under the CLAIMS drop-down menu.
7
Select the LETTERS chevron on the CLAIM DETAILS screen as shown in the illustration below.
Example:
image of the EP400 Correspondance ribbon in VBMS
8
Select ADD NEW LETTER.
9
Select the INFORMAL CLAIM LETTER check box.
10
Select ADD LETTERS.
11
Update the SALUTATION field.
12
Select SAVE.
13
Select the LETTERS chevron again.
14
Select FINALIZE LETTERS.
15
Verify that the newly created development letter is visible in VBMSDocuments.
16
Open the letter and print a copy to send to the claimant.
17
Clear the EP 400 – Correspondence once the letter has been sent to the claimant.
References:  For more information on

III.ii.2.C.1.i. Processing Informal Original Claims for Claims Excluded from VBMS Establishment

If an informal claim is received prior to March 24, 2015, for a claim type excluded from VBMS establishment, establish an EP 400 in Share using the date of receipt of the informal claim as the date of claim (DOC).
Send the claimant a locally generated letter
  • including the applicable application in order to apply for benefits, and
  • informing him or her that if a completed application is received by VA within one year from the date of the letter and he or she is found entitled to VA benefits that benefits could be awarded as early as the date of receipt of the informal claim.
Note:  Clear the EP 400 after sending the claimant the locally generated letter.
References:  For more information on

2.  General Information on ITF 


Introduction

This topic contains information regarding the identification and processing of ITFs, including

Change Date

February 19, 2019

III.ii.2.C.2.a.  Communication of an ITF

VA stopped accepting informal claims on March 24, 2015.  Claimants desiring the benefit of filing an informal claim (as expressed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.1.b) must now communicate to VA an “intent to file” a claim.  They may accomplish this by
Note:  If a claimant expresses an ITF before March 24, 2015, determine whether VA may accept the communication as an informal claim.
References:  For more information about

III.ii.2.C.2.b.  Required Elements of a Communication of an ITF

A claimant’s communication of an ITF is adequate for VA purposes if, in the communication, the claimant
  • provides VA with enough information to identify the Veteran (and the claimant, if the claimant is not the Veteran), and
  • specifies the general benefit he/she is seeking (compensation and/or pension, or Survivors Pension and/or Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)).
Notes:
  • The initiation of an application for benefits via eBenefits/VDC or SEP constitutes an acceptable communication of an ITF.
  • When an ITF is submitted in writing, it must be submitted on VA Form 21-0966.  VA Form 21-0966 must be signed by
    • the claimant
    • the claimant’s VSO, or
    • a VA-recognized power of attorney (POA).
  • As long as VA can identify the claimant via information included on VA Form 21-0966 or other information submitted with the form, the only sections of VA Form 21-0966 a claimant must complete are the sections titled General Benefit Election and Declaration of Intent (Sections II and III on the July 2015 version of the form).  Assume the claimant is the Veteran if he/she leaves the Claimant/Veteran Identification (Section I) of the form blank.
  • If a claimant communicates his/her ITF by contacting a VA call center, and the claimant does not have a corporate record, a call center employee must complete, sign, and submit VA Form 21-0966 on the claimant’s behalf.
  • A claimant may communicate his or her ITF to a Field Examiner as directed in the Fiduciary Program Manual (FPM) 2.D.3.r.
Reference:  For more information on POAs, see M21-1, Part I, 3.A.

III.ii.2.C.2.c.  Why Communication of an ITF Is Important

The communication of an ITF to VA is important because VA may grant entitlement to benefits from an effective date prior to the DOC as long as the claimant submits a complete claim within one year of the date VA received the ITF.
When the complete claim is received within one year of the ITF, the ITF is a DOC placeholder and other applicable effective date rules, such as 38 CFR 3.114 and38 CFR 3.400, may be applied based on the date of receipt of the ITF.
References:  For more information about

III.ii.2.C.2.d. Determining Active Status of an ITF

A claimant’s communication of an ITF is “active” for the purpose of assigning an earlier effective date of entitlement (as explained in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.2.c) until the earlier of the following occur:
  • VA receives a substantially complete application for benefits for the same type of benefit identified on the ITF, or
  • the one-year period following VA’s receipt of the communication of the ITF ends.
Important:
  • Once VA associates a specific application for benefits with a communication of an ITF, that communication is no longer active for the purpose of assigning an earlier effective date of entitlement to the same specific benefit for which the claimant might subsequently apply.  This limitation applies even if VA receives the subsequent application(s) within one year of the date it received the communication of an ITF.
  • Once VA associates a specific application for benefits with a claimant’s communication of an ITF, the claimant may submit anothercommunication of an ITF that VA will then consider when assigning an effective date of entitlement to benefits for which the claimant mightsubsequently apply.
References:  For more information on

III.ii.2.C.2.e. Identification of the Benefit Sought on the ITF

An ITF is specific to the benefit sought.  When the claim received is not for the same type of benefit identified on the ITF, the ITF may not be applied to the claim for purposes of effective date assignment.
Example:  An ITF identifying pension as the benefit sought cannot be applied to a subsequent claim for compensation.
Note:  A survivor’s ITF on which either compensation or pension is selected as the benefit sought cannot be applied to a claim for Survivors Pension or DIC.  A survivor’s ITF with compensation or pension selected should be handled as an incomplete ITF.
References:  For more information on

III.ii.2.C.2.f.  ITFs for Multiple Benefits

When a single ITF is received that has both compensation and pension boxes checked, two active ITFs are created.  Each ITF remains active until
  • a claim for the corresponding benefit is received, or
  • the one year period for submission of a claim for the corresponding benefit expires.
Note:  Various systems and EP issues may impact proper update of the ITF status.  Claims processors must verify that the ITF status as reflected on the ITF screen is correct.
Reference:  For more information on verifying systems accuracy for ITFs, seeM21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.5.

III.ii.2.C.2.g. Duplicate ITFs

An ITF remains active for one year or until a claim is received, whichever occurs earlier.  A duplicate ITF is an ITF submitted for the same benefit as an ITF which has already been submitted, for which a corresponding claim has not been received.
Any subsequent duplicate ITF submitted for the same benefit during the active period will have no effect on benefit entitlement.
Reference:  For more information on the assignment of effective date following the submission of a duplicate ITF, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iv, 5.C.2.c.

III.ii.2.C.2.h.  Applying an ITF to Multiple Claims Received on the Same Day

When an active ITF is of record and multiple claims are subsequently received all on the same date, apply the ITF to all claims received on the same day.
Example:  An ITF for compensation was received on June 11, 2019.  Subsequently, on September 14, 2019, an initial claim for compensation is received through the mail.  Also on September 14, 2019, an initial claim for compensation is submitted online.  The ITF will apply to both claims received on September 14, 2019, since they were received on the same day.

III.ii.2.C.2.i.  ITFs and Non-Final Decisions

An ITF may not be used to extend the period of non-finality for a decided claim.
Accept an ITF submitted during the period of non-finality as an active ITF, if an active ITF is not already of record, and associate it with a qualifying claim if received within one year of the ITF.
References:  For more information on

III.ii.2.C.2.j.  ITFs and Withdrawn Claims

When an ITF has been associated with a claim, but the claim is subsequently successfully withdrawn and the withdrawal is not retracted, the ITF remains associated with the withdrawn claim and may not be applied to any other claim.
If the withdrawal is successfully retracted, the ITF remains associated with the claim and may be utilized for the purposes of assigning an effective date.
Reference:  For more information on withdrawn claims, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.G.

III.ii.2.C.2.k.  ITFs Submitted During Active Duty

An ITF generally has no effect when submitted during a period of active duty just prior to discharge due to application of 38 CFR 3.400(b)(2)(i).
However, in unusual situations, such as those where there are multiple brief periods of active duty, in which the ITF has the potential to impact effective date assignment, an ITF received during active service may be applied for assignment of effective date.  However, under no circumstances may benefits be paid during a period of active service.

III.ii.2.C.2.l. Examples of Benefits ITF Does Not Affect

ITF applies to claims for
  • compensation
  • pension
  • Survivors Pension, and
  • DIC.
The following are examples of benefits or types of claims to which ITF does not apply:
  • requests for dependency
  • ancillary benefits
  • requests for higher-level review
  • supplemental claims
  • duplicate claims, and
  • requests for review based on clear and unmistakable error.
Reference:  For more information on ancillary benefits, see M21-1, Part IX, Subpart i.

III.ii.2.C.2.m.  Acknowledging Receipt of a Communication of an ITF That Includes All Required Elements

Receipt of an ITF must be recorded in the corporate record as described at M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.3.a.  As soon as this corporate record update takes place, the Hines Information Technology Center (ITC) generates and mails to the claimant a letter
  • confirming
    • the date VA received the claimant’s communication of an ITF, and
    • the benefit(s) the claimant is seeking, and
  • informing the claimant of
    • the form(s) that must be completed to apply for benefits, and
    • the time limit for returning the completed form(s) to VA.
Note:  Sometimes, the Hines ITC is unable to generate the letter.  Upon receipt of notice that this has occurred, manually create the letter using the Active ITF Notification Letter from the Letter Creator tool or equivalent letter generated in Personal Computer Generated Letters (PCGL).
Reference:  For more information on using the Letter Creator tool, see the Letter Creator User Guide.

3.  Systems Processing of ITFs


Introduction

Change Date
 February 19, 2019

III.ii.2.C.3.a.  How the Corporate Record Is Updated to Reflect Receipt of a Communication of an ITF

The table below describes how the corporate record is updated to reflect receipt of a communication of an ITF that contains the required elements described in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.2.b.
When …
Then …
  • a claimant initiates an application for benefits via eBenefits/VDC, or
  • a VSO, claim agent, or private attorney initiates a claim through SEP
data concerning the claimant’s ITF is automatically transferred to the corporate record.
Note:  No corresponding VA Form 21-0966 exists in this case.
Reference:  For more information about eBenefits, VDC, and SEP, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart i, 4.
a VSO submits VA Form 21-0966 on a claimant’s behalf via D2D
  • data concerning the claimant’s ITF is automatically transferred to the corporate record, and
  • the VA Form 21-0966 is automatically uploaded into the claimant’s electronic claims folder (eFolder).
a claimant communicates an ITF to a VA call center
a call center employee enters data concerning the communication into the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application, which automatically updates the corporate record to reflect receipt of the communication.
Exception:  If the claimant has no corporate record, the call center employee
  • completes and signs VA Form 21-0966 on the claimant’s behalf, and
  • routes the form to the appropriate intake processing center (IPC), where an IPC employee will manually update the corporate record through VBMS or Share to reflect receipt of the communication of an ITF.
a claimant submits a completed VA Form 21-0966 to VA
the IPC of the station of origin is responsible for manually updating the corporate record through VBMS or Share to reflect receipt of the communication of an ITF.
Note:  Upon receipt of an incomplete VA Form 21-0966, follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.4.
a claimant communicates an ITF to a VSC/PMC employee
the VSC/PMC employee is responsible for manually updating the corporate record through VBMS or Share to reflect receipt of the communication of an ITF.
a claimant communicates an ITF to a Field Examiner
the Field Examiner or designated fiduciary employee will accept the ITF by following the procedures directed in the FPM 2.D.3.r to electronically update the corporate record to reflect receipt of the communication of an ITF.
Notes:

Reference:  For more information on locating ITF information when received electronically or input by an employee at a call center, VSC, or PMC, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.3.d.


III.ii.2.C.3.b.  Accepting ITFs By Telephone

Effective March 24, 2015, VA will only recognize compensation, pension, survivors, and related claims if they are submitted on prescribed forms.  When a claimant expressed an intent to file a claim during a telephone conversation, determine whether the claimant wishes to submit an ITF.
Follow the instructions in the table below if a claimant attempts to file a claim during a telephone conversation.
Step
Action
1
Verify the identity of the person providing the information by telephone by asking for the claimant’s
  • SSN
  • DOB, or
  • any other information that might help to establish identity.
Note:  Complete development to the claimant by letter if the
  • caller is unable to furnish this information, or
  • person’s identity remains questionable.
2
Notify the claimant that VA regulations require all claims to be submitted on a prescribed form.
3
Review the claimant’s record to determine whether the claimant has an active ITF for the same general benefit for which they are trying to file a claim.
4
Use the following table to determine if the claimant has an active ITF for the same general benefit.
If an active ITF …
Then …
exists
  • notify the claimant that an active ITF associated with the same general benefit is currently pending
  • inform the claimant of the
    • date the ITF was received
    • appropriate form(s) needed to submit a complete application
    • timeframe necessary to submit the complete application to retain the ITF effective date placeholder, and
    • ways to submit the complete application, and
  • no further action is required.
does not exist
  • notify the claimant that you can enter an ITF which can be used as an effective date placeholder if the claimant submits a complete application within one year of receipt of the ITF, and
  • go to Step 5.
5
Use the following table to determine the actions to take based on whether or not a claimant has provided authorization to enter an ITF during a telephone conversation.
If the claimant …
Then …
provided authorization
enter the ITF in the claimant’s claims folder and inform the claimant of
  • the appropriate form(s) needed to submit a complete application
  • the timeframe necessary to submit a complete application to retain the ITF effective date placeholder, and
  • ways to submit a complete application.
did not provide authorization
consider the communication a request for application and inform the claimant of
  • the appropriate form(s) needed to submit a complete application
  • ways to submit a complete application, and
  • the potential effective date if benefits are awarded, which will be the date VA receives a complete application.
References:  For more information on

III.ii.2.C.3.c. Processing VA Form 21-0966 When No BIRLS Record Exists

Follow the instructions in the table below when VA receives VA Form 21-0966 from a claimant for whom no BIRLS record exists.
Step
Action
1
Follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 3.A.1.d to ensure a BIRLS record does not already exist for the Veteran named on theVA Form 21-0966.
2
Follow the instructions in the Share User’s Guide for adding a new BIRLS record.
Notes:
  • Use information obtained from the VA Form 21-0966 to complete (to the extent possible) the fields on the VET’S IDENTIFICATION DATA tab in BIRLS.
  • Completion of the fields in the SERVICE DATA section of the VET’S IDENTIFICATION DATA tab is not necessary.
3
In VBMS, enter the Veteran’s claim number in the search bar at the top of any screen.
4
Click on the OPEN PROFILE button to the right of the search bar.
5
Select Edit Veteran from the options in the ACTIONS drop-down menu.
6
Enter the claimant’s address in the fields provided for this information, using the address shown on the VA Form 21-0966.
7
Follow the instructions in the VBMS User Guide (under the headingCreating New Intent to File) to record receipt of the VA Form 21-0966.

III.ii.2.C.3.d.  Identifying ITFs Received Electronically or By Employees

As noted in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.3.a, ITFs submitted electronically through eBenefits/VDC or SEP or those communicated directly to a call center, VSC, PMC, or fiduciary employee will not be recorded on VA Form 21-0966.  Rather, the receipt of ITF will be reflected

  • in the corporate record on the VBMS INTENT TO FILE screen, and
  • by the Hines ITC generated letter available for review in the eFolder.
Thus, it is necessary to review the VBMS INTENT TO FILE screen to ensure that all ITFs are considered for the purpose of assigning correct effective dates for claims.
Follow the steps in the table below to locate ITF information in VBMS.
Step
Action
1
Open the Veteran’s VBMS profile by entering the file number in the search bar and selecting OPEN PROFILE.
2
Click on the VETERAN tab and select Intent To File from the drop-down menu.  The INTENT TO FILE screen will display.
Example:
Image of Veteran tab drop down in VBMS.
3
Click the STATUS drop-down menu in the top right corner and select All to show all receipts of ITF.
Example:
Status drop down menu in VBMS.
Reference:  For more information on entering and viewing ITF information in VBMS, see the VBMS User Guide.

III.ii.2.C.3.e.  Status of Communications of an ITF as Displayed in VBMS and Share

The status of each communication of an ITF that VA receives is displayed in Share and VBMS.
The table below provides the meaning behind each status the system may assign.
Status
Meaning
Active
VA received a communication of an ITF that contains the required elements set forth in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.2.b.
A communication of an ITF remains in this status until the earlier of the following occur:
  • VA receives a substantially complete application for benefits, or
  • the one-year period following VA’s receipt of the communication ends.
Note:  No more than one communication of an intent to file a claim for a general benefit may be in an active status at any given period of time.
Duplicate
While a communication of an intent to file a claim for a general benefit is in an active status, VA receives another communication of an intent to file a claim for the same benefit.
Incomplete
VA received a communication of an ITF that did not contain the required elements set forth in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.2.b.
Expired
The claimant failed to submit a substantially complete application within one year of the date VA received a communication of an ITF from the claimant.
Claim Received
VA received a substantially complete application for a benefit from a claimant within one year of the date VA received a communication of an intent to file a claim for the same general benefit from the claimant.
Canceled
An ITF was established erroneously and subsequently canceled by a VA employee with an associated cancellation reason, such asIncorrect Received Date.
Note:  Once a claimant communicates an intent to file a claim for a general benefit, and follows it up (within a one-year period of time) with a substantially complete application for the same benefit, the claimant may later (before the initial claim is resolved) communicate another intent to file a claim for the same benefit (albeit a different contention).
Scenario:
Result:  Once VA acknowledges receipt of the VA Form 21-526EZ, the status of the claimant’s pending communication of an ITF changes from Active to Claim Received.  Once this occurs,
  • the claimant may submit another communication of an intent to file a claim for compensation, and
  • VA will not consider the subsequent communication a duplicatecommunication of an ITF.  The system will assign the status of Active to the subsequent communication of an ITF.

III.ii.2.C.3.f.  Receipt of a Communication of an ITF on the Same Date VA Receives an Application for Benefits Through eBenefits/VDC, SEP, or D2D

When VA receives a communication of an intent to file a claim for a general benefit on the same date it receives an application for the same benefit through eBenefits/VDC, SEP, or D2D, the status of the communication of the ITF will be displayed in VBMS and Share as
  • Claim Received, as long as no other communication of an intent to file a claim for the same general benefit remains in an active status, or
  • Duplicate, if an earlier communication of an intent to file a claim for the same general benefit is still in an active status.
 If a claimant submits an application via eBenefits then initiates another application via eBenefits on the same day, the status of the communication of the  ITF will be displayed in VBMS and Share as Active.
The table below contains examples of the application of the principle discussed in the above paragraphs, to include the information that will be displayed in VBMS and Share based on the facts associated with each individual scenario.

Evidence Received

ITF Status

Receipt Date

Explanation

Scenario 1
A claimant initiates, completes, and submits an application through eBenefits on June 15, 2015.
Claim Received June 15, 2015 The initiation of a claim in eBenefits is accepted as an ITF.  Since the application was received on the same date, the ITF is consumed and status will show claim received. 
Scenario 2
  • VA receives aVA Form 21-0966 for compensation from a claimant on June 15, 2015.
  • The claimant initiates, completes, and submits an application through eBenefits on July 20, 2015.
Claim Received June 15, 2015 Initially, the receipt of VA Form 21-0966 on June 15, 2015, will be reflected in active status on the ITF screen.  The initiation of the ITF on July 20, 2015, results in generation of another ITF, which is a duplicate ITF.  The submission of the application on July 20, 2015, results in consumption of the June 15, 2015, ITF and the status of that ITF is updated to claim received.
Duplicate July 20, 2015
Scenario 3

  • A claimant initiates, completes, and submits an application through eBenefits on June 15, 2015.
  • Later the same day, the claimant initiates a new application in eBenefits.
Claim Received June 15, 2015 The initiation of the claim in eBenefits generates an ITF on June 15, 2015.  That ITF is consumed by the immediate submission of a claim on the same date, so that first ITF status is claim received. The subsequent initiation of a new application in eBenefits will generate another ITF.  Since no claim was submitted after that application initiation, the ITF status is active.
Active June 15, 2015

III.ii.2.C.3.g.  Receipt of a Communication of an ITF on the Same Date VA Receives an Application for Benefits Through Means Other Than eBenefits/VDC, SEP, or D2D

When VA receives a communication of an intent to file a claim for a general benefit on the same date it receives an application for the same benefit through meansother than eBenefits/VDC, SEP, or D2D, the ITF will remain active pending receipt of a subsequent claim.  No further development to the claimant is required in same-day receipt situations.

4.  Incomplete ITFs


Introduction

Change Date
 April 26, 2018

III.ii.2.C.4.a.  Handling an Incomplete VA Form 21-0966 Prior to Receipt of a Subsequent Claim

Follow the instructions in the table below when
Important:  The date of receipt of a VA Form 21-0966 that does not contain the required elements set forth in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.2.b cannot be used to establish a potential effective date for entitlement to VA benefits.  When an incomplete ITF is received but later made complete with further development either via telephone or letter, the date of receipt of the completed ITF or information required to complete the ITF is applicable for future assignment of effective dates.

If the claimant …

Then …

cannot be identified follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 1.B.5for handling unidentifiable mail.
can be identified but the claimant did not specify the benefit he/she is seeking
  • attempt to contact the claimant by telephone
  • document attempts to contact the claimant according to the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 1.B.1.d, and
  • follow the instructions in the table below.
If attempts to obtain the missing information by telephone are … Then …
successful follow the instructions in the VBMS User Guide (under the headingCreating New Intent to File) to update the corporate record to reflect receipt of the VA Form 21-0966.
unsuccessful update VBMS to reflect receipt of the form.
can be identified but he/she did not sign the form input the information contained on the form into VBMS.

Note:  The Intent to File process to record an incomplete VA Form 21-0966 was not available until April 2015.  Prior to this date, users tracked VA Forms 21-0966that did not contain the required elements described in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.2.b through the

  • establishment of an EP 400, and
  • creation of a custom tracked item with a description of Incomplete ITF.

III.ii.2.C.4.b.Acknowledging Receipt of an Incomplete VA Form 21-0966

As soon as the update to VBMS described in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.4.a, takes place, the Hines ITC generates a letter acknowledging VA’s receipt of VA Form 21-0966 and informs the claimant that the form cannot be accepted as communication of an ITF.  The letter also informs the claimant of
Note:  Sometimes, the Hines ITC is unable to generate the letter or the letter is generated with an inaccurate address.  Upon receipt of notice that this has occurred, manually create the letter using the Incomplete ITF letter in the Letter Creator tool or equivalent letter generated in PCGL.
References:  For more information on

III.ii.2.C.4.c.  Handling an Incomplete VA Form 21-0966 After Receipt of a Subsequent Claim

Follow the steps in the table below when
Important:  The date of receipt of a VA Form 21-0966 that does not contain the required elements set forth in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.2.b cannot be used to establish a potential effective date for entitlement to VA benefits.

Step

Action

1

Do not enter the ITF in VBMS.  (The purpose of not entering the ITF in VBMS is to prevent generation of the Hines ITC letter described inM21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.4.b.)

2

Notify the claimant that the ITF cannot be utilized in conjunction with the current claim using the Incomplete ITF—Claim Received letter in the Letter Creator tool or equivalent letter in PCGL.
Reference:  For more information on using the Letter Creator tool, see the Letter Creator User Guide.

5.  ITF Data Accuracy


Introduction

Change Date
 February 19, 2019

III.ii.2.C.5.a.  Reviewing ITF Status For Accuracy Based on Circumstances of Claim
When an ITF is submitted, either by virtue of initiation of an electronic application or by specific submission by a claimant, and the subsequent claim is for a benefit to which ITF does not apply, validate the accuracy of the ITF data in the corporate record as directed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.5.b to ensure ITF status remains active when appropriate.  Take corrective action when ITF status is not accurate.

III.ii.2.C.5.b.  Validating the Accuracy of ITF Data in the Corporate Record

Claims processors are responsible for validating the accuracy of data in the corporate record regarding a claimant’s communication of an ITF.
When inaccurate ITF information exists and a correction is being made

Notes:

  • The daily ITF batch run refers to the system process that occurs once daily in the evening to update ITF statuses.  If an attempt to update an ITF status is made after the daily ITF batch run begins, a system message will appear indicating that the user does not have the authority to make changes to ITF status.
  • In situations where an ITF is expressed to a VA employee, the data is transcribed directly into the CRM system and/or the corporate record and need not be separately documented on VA Form 21-0966 or VA Form 27-0820, as described in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.3.a and d.  In these situations, additional validation is not necessary as no separate data will exist to use for validation.

III.ii.2.C.5.c.  Correction of ITF Data—Same Day

Any user who has permission to add an ITF can cancel or edit the ITF on the same day the ITF was created, before the batch run starts for that day.  When an ITF is created and canceled prior to the daily batch run, no letter will be issued to the Veteran/survivor.
The following provisions apply for cancellation of an ITF on the same day that it was added:
  • ITFs that were added by the Veteran or a representative using eBenefits/SEP/D2D portals cannot be canceled using VBMS.
  • An ITF in the Claim Received or Canceled status cannot be canceled.
  • A canceled ITF will not be deleted.  It will be displayed with the set of ITFs for the Veteran with a status of canceled.
The following provisions apply for editing an ITF on the same day that it was added:
  • ITFs that were added by the Veteran or a representative using eBenefits/SEP/D2D portals cannot be edited using VBMS.
  • Only ITFs in Active status can be edited.
  • Only the Benefit Sought and Received Date fields may be edited.  However, Benefit Sought cannot be edited if there is another ITF for the other benefit type.

III.ii.2.C.5.d.  Correction of ITF Data—Different Day
Cancellation of an ITF after the day the ITF was created may only be performed by Super Supervisors.  No editing of ITF data is allowed at regional offices after the batch run has started on the day the ITF was created.
In situations where ITF data requires an edit that cannot be done by a regular user
  • refer the case to the Super Supervisor for cancellation of the ITF so that it can be correctly re-established, or
  • if cancellation and re-establishment cannot be accomplished, refer the case to the National Service Desk Solution Center by utilizing the YourIT system.

III.ii.2.C.5.e.  Super Supervisor Review for Canceled ITFs

A Super Supervisor has the ability to cancel ITFs after the day the ITF was created.  For these situations, the Veteran or survivor has already received correspondence to inform him/her of the ITF and expiration date.  However, no system generated letter is created for notification of ITF cancellation.
Following cancellation of the ITF after the day the ITF was created, the Super Supervisor or a designee must notify the claimant of cancellation of the ITF either
  • via telephone, notifying the Veteran or survivor that
    • a letter was erroneously sent indicating that an ITF was received and would be utilized as an effective date placeholder, and
    • the error has been corrected and the ITF has been removed from the record, or
  • if telephone notification is not possible, via letter using the ITF Cancellation letter included in the Letter Creator tool or equivalent letter in PCGL.
Note:  If the ITF is cancelled for the purposes of editing the data, tailor the notification appropriately to inform the Veteran or survivor of the appropriate circumstances concerning the ITF status.
Reference:  For more information on using the Letter Creator tool, see the Letter Creator User Guide.

III.ii.2.C.5.f.Calculating the Timeliness of Receipt of ITFs
Apply 38 CFR 3.110 in the calculation of timeliness of receipt of a claim following receipt of an ITF.
Note:  The ITF screen in VBMS is not currently programmed to consider 38 CFR 3.110 in the reflection of ITF status.

III.ii.2.C.5.g.  Programming Errors Impacting Date of Receipt of ITF
In some cases, updates to the corporate record for both manually entered and electronically submitted communications of an ITF were affected by a programming error that caused the incorrect date of receipt of the communication to appear
This programming error impacted ITFs recorded
  • between June 26, 2015, and December 13, 2015, and
  • in other isolated incidents outside this date range.
When the assignment of an effective date for a grant of entitlement to benefits is necessary in a case involving a claimant who communicated to VA an ITF, and there is a date discrepancy, utilize the date of receipt of the communication as shown in a
  • note in Modern Award Processing – Development or VBMS, or
  • VA Form 21-0996 in the claimant’s claims folder.
In the event that none of the above-mentioned items can be used to verify the ITF receipt date, the VBMS date should be utilized as the date of receipt of the ITF for consideration when assigning an effective date.

III.ii.2.C.5.h. Time Zone Issues Impacting ITF
A system defect has occurred periodically in which a time zone issue impacts the date of receipt of an ITF.  The defect can impact both electronic and manually entered ITFs and occurs when submissions are made near midnight.
VBMS operates on a server in the Eastern Standard Time zone while the corporate database operates on a Central Standard Time server.
In situations where an ITF appears to be affected by a time zone discrepancy, review the time stamp on the ITF and claim to determine if the submission was made near midnight and potentially impacted by a time zone discrepancy.  Any corrections to date of receipt must be made by following the procedures described in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.C.2.b.

6.  Requests for Application

 


Change Date

February 19, 2019

III.ii.2.C.6.a.  Requests for Benefits Not Filed on the Prescribed Form on or After March 24, 2015

Consider a request for benefits which was not filed on an appropriate prescribed form on or after March 24, 2015, a request for application.
Establish the appropriate EP with a DOC as the date the request for application was received.  Generate the appropriate request for application letter in VBMS.
Note:  When the VBMS letter cannot be utilized, use the request for application letter for the corresponding benefit in the Letter Creator tool or equivalent letter in PCGL.
References:  For more information on
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