1. General Guidelines for Conducting Telephone Interviews



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M21-1-MR, Part II, Chapter 3

Chapter 3. Telephone Interviews

1. General Guidelines for Conducting Telephone Interviews




Introduction

This section contains information on general guidelines for conducting telephone interviews, including


  • the purpose of the telephone interview

  • conducting the interview

  • documenting information

  • important points to remember

  • powers of attorney (POAs)

  • using Automated Data Processing (ADP)

  • types of information suitable for telephone development, and

  • pop-up messages.



Change Date

June 15, 2009



a. Purpose of the Telephone Interview

The purpose of the telephone interview is to provide timely, accurate and quality service to veterans and other callers who contact a Telephone Interview Activity (TIA) for benefits information and assistance.



b. Conducting the Interview

Follow the steps below to conduct the telephone interview.





Step

Action

1

Introduce yourself and greet the Interviewee using the appropriate opening remarks (Reference: For more information, see M21-1MR, Part II, 3.6.a.)

2

Verify the identity of the caller.

3

Is the interviewee a veteran who is requesting information?













Yes

No










Provide the information as per PA/FOIA guidelines.

Provide information as appropriate to a third party request.










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1. General Guidelines for Conducting Telephone Interviews, Continued

c. Documenting Information

Completely document all information received during the interview on VA Form 119, Report of Contact, or the equivalent, such as the Informal Conference Report for DRO’s.



d. Important Points to Remember

When documenting telephone calls on VA Form 119, keep in mind that


  • beneficiaries are not required to advise VA in writing of

  • a written statement from claimant is required to establish a dependent.


Important: A claimant is not required to submit VA Form 21-686c, Declaration of Status of Dependents, to establish a dependent, as long as his/her written statement provides all of the information requested on the VA Form 21-686c.



e. POAs

Note: If the caller has a Power of Attorney (POA), ensure you send the representative a copy of the VA Form 119.



f. Using ADP

Make full use of Automated Data Processing (ADP) tools and capabilities to resolve issues before completing a veteran’s assistance inquiry.

Continued on next page

1. General Guidelines for Conducting Telephone Interviews, Continued

g. Types of Information Suitable for Telephone Development

It is very important to note and understand exactly what types of information may be obtained for development via telephone:


  • Social Security numbers of dependents

  • mailing address and direct deposit information

  • date(s) of birth

  • Reserve or National Guard unit information such as addresses

  • information concerning retired, severance or readjustment pay

  • names and addresses of physicians or medical record numbers

  • employment information (past or current)

  • changes in (but not establishment of) dependency status, name, address of person having custody of child(ren), and so forth

  • income information (for example, change in income or date of receipt of first Social Security payment)

  • clarification of medical expenses

  • verification of Medicaid-covered nursing home status

  • burial claim clarification information (for example, status of unpaid bills/expenses), and

  • whether the veteran has service medical, personnel or other records.



h. Pop-Up Messages

Pop-up messages are generated by the Direct Services Quality Assurance Specialists to those answering telephone calls through the 1-800 toll-free number.
The purpose of these messages is to provide immediate, real time technical assistance to the Public Contact Representative (PCR) during a telephone inquiry when appropriate.
In the event you receive a pop-up message, you should


  • immediately read the message

  • comply with the instructions or guidance provided

  • write down the call back number, if necessary, and

  • click the “OK” key in case an additional message needs to be sent during the call. (Warning: Failure to click the “OK” key after reading the message will preclude the ability to read subsequent messages during the call.)



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