Today marks one year since the president signed in to law one of the most significant legislative changes in decades affecting VA and the Veterans it serves. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (Appeals Modernization Act) was signed on August 23, 2017, effectively transforming VA’s appeals process from a complex, frustrating process into one that is simple, timely and transparent. VA is working toward full implementation of the law by February 2019.

The road to reform began in March 2016 with a VA-sponsored “Appeals Summit.” Together, VA leaders, Veterans, Veterans Service Organizations and members of Congress drafted a legislative proposal that outlined a more efficient process. Three processing lanes were created—higher-level review, a supplemental claim, and an appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).

Veterans are already benefitting from the new process. In November 2017, VA began the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP). RAMP allows Veterans with an active appeal to choose between two of the three new lanes immediately, before full implementation of the law. Implementation of BVA’s appeals lane for Veterans who have appealed their RAMP decision is expected to begin in October 2018.

To date, more than 40,000 Veterans have chosen RAMP and more than $45 million in retroactive benefits has been paid to Veterans. Additionally, BVA has issued more than 73,000 decisions thus far in FY 2018, a historic high, and is on track to deliver over 81,000 decisions to Veterans by the end of the fiscal year. Both BVA and the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) are working together to recruit, hire and train new employees, as well as implement new processes and technology into the appeals system that will improve the lives of Veterans and their families. VBA is utilizing experienced personnel from appeals teams at VA regional offices to process RAMP elections.

VBA also began establishing two new Decision Review Operations Centers (DROCs) to process claims under the new appeals framework. Staffing of these new DROCs is supported through several existing hiring initiatives, to include the Warrior Training Advancement Course (WARTAC). WARTAC is an education and employment opportunity for transitioning Servicemembers to complete a national-level training program to become VBA claims processors. This program can be completed while still on active duty. VBA is currently conducting a WARTAC session at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and graduates from this session will be offered Veterans Service Representative positions at DROC sites. VBA also plans to hold several additional WARTAC sessions during fiscal year 2019 to staff DROCs.

VA remains deeply committed to improving the lives of Veterans through innovative and meaningful ways. This is just the beginning.

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Published on Aug. 23, 2018

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  1. vern Steven saxton September 22, 2018 at 10:23 am

    A letter I sent to the VA and still no resolution:

    I received your response today. You indicated the reply for the processing of a NOD takes an average of
    of 230 days. It has been in excess of 820 days.

    Once again I can’t understand. If the documentation was reviewed. How the med evac. to the 85th Evacuation Hospital
    in Qui Nhon, Vietnam was missed. The Clinical Record from the Naval Hospital in Guam from 02 Nov. 1965 to 06 Jan 1966 was missed.

    The air evacuation from USNH Guam to the USNH Great Lakes for further treatment 09 Jan. 1966 to 06 Mar. 1966 was missed .
    The letter to my parents stating that I could write home was missed.

    I really think this was service related.

    Could please help me understand this process because it has been in excess of 2 years. Do I need to resend the info? It’s not like I’m getting any younger. I’ll probably be dead before it is complete.

  2. Miguel Rivera September 18, 2018 at 9:12 am

    It’s frustrating to read the marketing rhetoric on RAMP. I have been in the RAMP for 144 days. I was asked to go to a C&P on 2 Aug and saw the same person I saw in 2015 for the same conditions. The person agreed with the service connection in the report signed on 6 Aug. yet today, 18 Sep, I am told the VA is still preparing a decision. Sorry, I don’t buy the rhetoric that RAMP is faster or efficient.

  3. John v. September 12, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    I file my appeal in March 2016 and I having been calling VA for the past three years.
    All I get is a different answer from the person who answer the phone.
    One person on the phone tell me it take 355 days to get an answer,
    the next time I call the number go up to 500 and some days.

  4. Rose McGuire September 8, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    I have tried to get a higher rating ( more than 10%) for my back( which is my most debilitating ailment) for 12 years. The. VA has paid a lot of money to its claim processors who have evaluated, processed and denied my claims.
    I am the veteran. I served 20 years.

  5. Russell Bourke, RN September 4, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    I had an “Appeals Hearing” in Albuquerque with a traveling judge (April 2018). As I report here this event was not a hearing or an appeal. Those words connote the role of an appelant; a person who has certain rights to provide testimony, evidence, witnesses, records, challenge the opposing evidence or dispute it with countering evidence. NONE of this happened; the dumb VSO didn’t even know his own name, the Judge completely controlled the SEMANTIC INTERFACE refusing the words and materials of the Veteran. The Veteran spent hundreds of hours curating evidence (a C-File), created a roadmap spanning 48 years of VA Medical History and brought a witness. All of this was ignored with statements like ” I don’t want to see that”. Gee thanks Judge , I mean “Butcher”. Opinion: You just scalped off 21 years of my treatment history- do you know what I think of you? You are racketeering with your others to provide for your own welfare first. End the games and open up the disability evaluation services to CIVILIAN DOCTORS and get the DOD incentivized Etiolation Experts (Criminals) out of the business of caring for our Veterans.

  6. Ahmad Rasheed August 31, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    I received a letter from the VA in Washington DC outline a series of benefits tax-free for tags and tax free and fun the Bellas of the Bauhaus what does this mean to me the letter I received it off eBenefits website but the benefits don’t seem to know anything about it could you please explain to me what’s going on

  7. Baldauff Robert August 29, 2018 at 8:16 am

    One issue for myself was during the Comp exam the (of many) examiner push me to to answer her written Q&A’s what came first Disease 1 or item disease 2. Forced to answer immediately I freely said after a minute item 1. Her response was sorry, you should have said item #2. VA would consider your claim for item #1 only. In that brief moment I answered what I thought was the truth. VA did honor one claim and because of my incorrect answer to what came first , it had cost my family the award I deserved. I did not file a decision appeal. So frastrated, I just through my hands. VA wins again. I did not think it fair that the examiner knew how to phrase a question to trick me up and cause VA denied.

    • Alex Rosado September 1, 2018 at 1:50 am

      I’m in the middle of filing my appeal. I’ve learned through PROPER research how to create a nexus between disabilities to have them rolled up in the proper manner. I would urge everyone reading this post to be careful about what you read on the Internet because there’s a bunch of nit wits who don’t know what the heck they are doing or talking about. I would encourage everyone to verify everything they read on the Internet. Start with downloading a PDF file of 38 C.F.R and 38 U.S.C. And know the right forms to fill out! Never file VA Form 21-4138 STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF CLAIM. This useless form carries no weight with VBA at all because the purpose of the form is to gather evidence. For example, “We need this information to obtain evidence in support of your claim for benefits.” Another thing about the 21-4138 is where it says (right above where you sign your name), “I CERTIFY THAT the statements on this form are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.” There’s a big legal problem with the use of the term “best of my knowledge”. Why? Because it’s not credible and every judge and VA knows that. Also, if you’ve received your Decision Letter look under the section EVIDENCE. If you filed a VA Form 21-4138, do you see it listed as evidence considered? Check it out. I bet it’s not there. It’s better to make a sworn statement on a separate piece of paper with the proper language such as “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct.” Who are you more likely to believe? A person who is certifying to the “best of their knowledge” or someone who is declaring under penalty of perjury? Think about it. I am not a lawyer. Check it out yourself. Another thing, read VA’s instructions carefully and get all your information together and organized before you submit your claim. And if you receive a letter from VA saying they need a particular form or more information, then give it to them immediately (although you should never get in that position if you are prepared to begin with). I would encourage everyone to read case law relating to whatever your claim is about so you will know where you stand before you start. If you don’t understand legal terms, then hire an attorney. I feel for Baldauff who posted earlier. Another thing, get a doctor’s medical opinion as to your condition and have them state in their letter that your disability is service-connected. Otherwise, get SWORN statements from your spouse, ex-military buddies, etc. and have them state what they know about your condition and when they observed it. Dates are critical. My $0.02.

  8. EDWARD LEO Andrew August 28, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Why is my appeal taking so long?

  9. EDWARD LEO Andrew August 28, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    Why is it taking so long to answer my appeal (Nov 2017)?

  10. JAMES CONTARINO August 24, 2018 at 11:01 am

    the veterans affairs always needs a year or more to start starting new laws. why is that? and as so many veterans say. they will never have a fair system.because to have these gatherings and dinner parties to celebrate a new law. one they know will really be strung out for years.if they want to change and be more transparent then start doing what your law the above veteran also stated why this wacky system on ratings.if its more than 100% . than say so. stop this system of adding this to that and so cause one guy got 70% for one issue. another veterans will not get the same because they say it goes by whats worst and so on. so if a person has almost 100% and he gets several other approvals he will get less because they will him the 100%.this system is unfair and needs to be changed.if you get 10% and then 50% it equals 60%, than you get another 30% instead of 90%. you get much less.this is a crazy system.needs to be updated and brought into the new century and not one from 3 or 4 centuries ago,

  11. Louis John Sansevero August 24, 2018 at 10:05 am

    Fail! If the VA truly modernized why do situations like this one reported to me by a Vietnam Veteran Agent Orange victim still happen; “my combined total with simple math is 250% and with the fuzzy math is 98% which is rounded to 100% So it takes 250 to get to 100. this is why so many cannot ever get to fully disabled status,”

    The VA needs to stop cheating Veterans, we don’t need empty platitudes, we don’t need phony “modernization” we need a Veterans Fair Compensation Act to revamp the entire compensation system!

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