By: Susan Paczak
In August 2017, the President signed into law a bill that changes the VA appeal process. The new process does not take effect until February 2019, at the earliest. However, the VA is now conducting a project to see how this new process may work. The VA has selected cases of certain veterans and is inviting those veterans to use the new appeals process. The VA calls this RAMP-Rapid Appeals Modernization Project.
The VA is picking cases that are already in the appeals process. If your case is picked, you will receive a letter from the VA inviting you to join RAMP. This sounds like a good process. The Veteran gets to have their appeal speeded up. However, that is not how it works. If you join RAMP, you have to withdraw your claim and file a new claim. If you win, the new claim will go back to the date of the claim you withdrew. If you don’t win and have to appeal this new claim, then you have to file a new appeal. This new appeal then goes to the end of the appeals line, because it is a new appeal. The VA will not take into account that your appeal was already in the system for years before RAMP started. This new appeal may then be in the system for many more years.
Here is an example: Vet files his claim in 2014, is denied in 2015 and appeals. In 2018, he is invited to join RAMP. Vet then withdraws his 2014 claim, and files a new claim. The new claim is denied in 2018. Vet appeals in 2018. The appeal is now a 2018 appeal-not a 2015 appeal. So, the appeal will now be decided after all the earlier appeals are decided. Vet now may have to wait another 3-4 years for the appeal to be decided. If Vet had stayed with the old appeal, it would most likely have been decided in 2018.
IF YOU RECEIVE A LETTER INVITING YOU TO JOIN RAMP IMMEDIATELY CALL ABESBAUMANN, P.C. TO DISCUSS YOUR OPTIONS.