What is the VA Evidence Intake Center (EIC)?
Veterans who have a claim or appeal pending with VA will often receive correspondence relating to their case from the “Evidence Intake Center.” This can cause some confusion and raise questions as to what exactly the Evidence Intake Center is, how it relates to VA cases, and what role it plays in the claims process. Continue reading to learn what veterans need to know about the Evidence Intake Center.
What is the Evidence Intake Center (EIC)?
The Evidence Intake Center (EIC) is the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) centralized processing location for inbound mail. Veterans send any claim- or appeal-related documents, including evidence and initial disability compensation applications, to this location in order for it to be scanned and saved in the electronic Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS).
Specifically, veterans may submit documents such as the following to the EIC:
- Medical evidence
- VA forms relating to claims or appeals
- Service records
- Lay statements, or statements in support of claim
Why Did VA Implement the Evidence Intake Center (EIC)?
In 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) implemented centralized mail processing for compensation claims in order to reduce the incoming paper handling and shipping requirements. At first, there were two Evidence Intake Centers, located in Janesville, Wisconsin and Newnan, Georgia. Veterans were instructed to send their claims and related evidence to one of the two EICs depending on where they lived.
However, VA currently only has one Evidence Intake Center, located in Janesville, WI. If veterans send mail to the Newnan, GA center, it will likely delay the claims process as that center will have to forward the mail to the Janesville center.
How to Submit Documents to the EIC
All correspondence pertaining to compensation claims should be sent to the following location:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Evidence Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444
When submitting documentation, veterans should be sure that the envelope, if mailed, is clearly marked and the veteran’s name is associated with the correspondence.
Veterans can also fax documents and information to the following number: 844-531-7818.
Does the Evidence Intake Center Accept Other Claims?
Importantly, the mailing address listed above for the Evidence Intake Center only pertains to disability compensation claims. VA has other departments and centers allocated for receiving other types of claims, including the following:
- Education claims – refer to the appropriate Regional Processing Office
- Home loan matters – contact a Regional Loan Center
- Veteran readiness and employment matters – contact a local Regional Office at its physical address
- Pension claims – use the Pension Management Center (PMC) that serves your state
- Dual pension and compensation claims – allowed to utilize the EIC
Veterans located overseas are encouraged to submit claims and evidence via fax to the following EIC number: 248-524-4260.
How is the Evidence Intake Center Structured?
The EIC in Janesville, WI employs around 650 people, many of whom are veterans, veterans’ family members, National Guard members, and Reservists. Everyone plays an integral role in mail processing and claims sorting. The employees at the Janesville EIC ensure that veterans’ claims reach the appropriate destination in order to be processed in a timely manner. In a way, the EIC’s function represents the first step in the VA claims process.
Importantly, the Janesville EIC has been extremely productive since its inception. Specifically, it has received over 2 million pieces of mail, including roughly 4 million documents and 21 million images that have been scanned in for inclusion in VA’s VBMS database.
Step-by-Step at the EIC
The mail processing workflow at the EIC can be broken down into 8 main steps:
- Claim Received
First, the Evidence Intake Center receives the claim and any related evidence that a veteran has submitted.
- Mail Logged and Prepared
After the mail is received, it will be logged and prepared, meaning the Evidence Intake Center employees will sort it into document type, remove paper clips, staples, tape, etc. This stage of mail processing appears to be the most tedious for EIC employees; however, it is a very important part of the process.
- Imaging/Digitizing of Mail
From there, the sorted mail and documents will be scanned and digitized to prepare for VBMS uploading.
- Image Processing/Indexing
Once the mail is scanned, it will be processed and indexed. Essentially, the indexing allows the mail to be traced back through the entire EIC process. That is, VA can go back through the process and determine who “touched” the document at any point in the process. Indexing is important because it allows for accountability and quality assurance.
- Document Typing
The document typing stage of the process involves sorting the information contained within each document. Namely, the digital file is sorted to determine whether it is a medical record, lay evidence, VA Form, claims/appeals application, or other relevant documentation. EIC employees have approximately 300 different protocols for different document types. The employees’ actions are based on the type of document at hand.
- Independent VA Quality Assurance
In addition to the EIC employees, there is a team of independent VA quality assurance inspectors that are required to review the work of the Image Processors/Indexers and Document Typers. The quality assurance inspectors guarantee that EIC employees are appropriately identifying the types of documents, the veteran who submitted the documents, and the Regional Office to which they are being sent.
- Digital File Sent to Regional Office
After steps 1-6 are completed, the Evidence Intake Center will upload the set of digital files to the correct Regional Office’s “Portal.” The EIC reports that over 99 percent of the mail is scanned and made available to the Regional Office digitally within 3-5 business days; however, delays are not uncommon and have been reported in the past.
- Paper Copies Stored
Finally, after the Evidence Intake Center uploads the digital files to the appropriate Regional Office, the paper copies of the documents are stored. Importantly, every document that is uploaded to VBMS has a unique identifier that allows veterans and veterans’ advocates to determine what happened to the documentation at every stage of the scanning process and where the hard copies are located.
Top Tips for Submitting Documentation to the Evidence Intake Center
- Label Every Document – This ensures that the EIC knows exactly what each document is and with which veteran it should be associated. If a document is not labeled, there is a chance significant delays could occur with the forms or documents being accepted and associated with the veteran’s file.
- Make Copies of all Documents Prior to Submitting – Veterans should also be sure to make copies of all documents before submitting. This can be extremely helpful if the document gets lost in the mail or if the EIC somehow loses the document. Otherwise, the veteran could risk losing the only original document.
- Consider Using Certified Mail – Certified mail is a specific service provided by the United States Postal Office which provides a mailing receipt and electronic verification once the piece of mail has been delivered. This can be helpful because it keeps the veteran informed as to when their documents have been received by the EIC and, if the documents were to get lost in the mail, the veteran would be alerted as soon as possible.
- Double Check the Address for the EIC – Another way to help avoid your documents being lost in the mail or delivered to the wrong address is to always double check that you have the right address for the EIC.
Why Do Veterans Receive Mail from the Evidence Intake Center?
In addition to submitting documentation to the EIC, veterans should be aware that they may receive mail from the Evidence Intake Center as well. At times, the EIC may mail documentation to veterans even after their cases have closed. Examples of mail sent to veterans by the EIC include:
- VA decisions on disability claims
- Eligibility for additional compensation and allowances
- Updates about new processes
Was Your VA Disability Claim Denied?
If your VA claim has been denied, the legal team at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD may be able to help. Contact us today for a free case evaluation at 800-544-9144.
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