Appeals Management Office unveils new path to speed up appeals decisions


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“Tired of waiting” is a phrase we often hear associated with appeals. But since the implementation of the Appeals Modernization Act, Veterans who disagree with VA’s decisions on their compensation claims have had a new and quicker way to receive a second look.

That benefit has now been extended to Veterans stuck in the legacy appeals process.

Dave McLenachan, director of VBA’s Appeals Management Office, unveiled the Decision Review Process last week in a VBA Facebook Live, noting that Veterans with appeals in the old process can—as soon as they receive a Statement of the Case (SOC) or Supplementary Statement of the Case (SSOC)—elect to transfer their appeals into the AMA process.

The opt-in notice will be included with SOCs and SSOCs, and must be returned to VA within 60 days.

The benefits of opting in are eye-popping: appeals in the legacy process average 3-7 years for a single decision; the current average for claims in the AMA is 36 days.

And lest you think the AMA “leads to quicker denials,” consider that since RAMP started, AMO has processed more than 75,000 claims and awarded more than $378 million in retroactive benefits.

That’s a lot of granting.

In the video, Mr. McLenachan also busts a few myths. My favorite is the “effective date protection”—your “backpay” date—which actually improves effective date provisions as long as a Veteran continually pursues the review of her claim.

That “continually pursues review” leads into the next busted myth: AMA is not a one-and-done; if the Veteran disagrees with the decision VA makes, she can move her claim into another lane, and there is no limit to how many times she can use the lanes, or in which order. None of the options go away!

That means a Veteran could potentially receive three or more decisions (if they continue to disagree) in AMA before ever receiving one in the legacy appeals process!

Want to learn more? Have questions about which of the AMA’s three lanes is right for you? Check out the video—and the Q&A at the end!

Author

Jason Davis

Jason Davis served five years in the Army’s 101st Airborne, including two combat tours to Iraq.

Comments

  1. Kenneth Worthy    

    VA and attorney’s are not your friend. VA look for every excuse to deny these claims. Attorney’s prey on veterans because they known that eventually the veteran is going to get granted his or her disability and it is just a waiting game until they get paid for doing nothing that the veteran could have done on their own. It doesn’t matter what track you decide to use, the outcome will be the same. I have been fighting with VA since 1999 about the injury. everytime I submitted a claim it is denied. Eventually they approve and increase my rating. I started out with 10% in 1999. As my injury worsen they would deny me and finally after years increase my rating by 10%. Too make a long story short. It has taken me almost twenty-years to get my rating up to 40%. You do the math, about 10% every five-years. So for twenty-years I have been fighting the VA for the same injury. Why is it that I have the same injury that I started back in 1999, not considered one claim? Everytime l get an increase it says almost the same thing just in different words. I have had lost claims, denied claims, service officers who sent paperwork in with no signatures or dates and said it was my fault. I had congressmen write letters on my behalf and the VA replied blaming me for the problem. I’ve had claims denied because my claim was sent out to other outside agencies who know nothing about my claim. I’ve waited on replies from VA for five or six-years to find out my claim has been closed due service officers not even submitting my claim and when I reopen the claim I hear nothing from the VA. I can go on and on about VA and the people who are suppose to be here assist you with your claim. No matter which track you use, the outcome will be the same. You either die a fast death or a slow death! The choice is yours. Again, VA and attorney’s are not your friends.

  2. Jerry Greelis    

    I wrote a comment, never got posted for some reason. I am 84-year-old USAF radar tech vet discharged 62 years ago.with Bilateral Hearing Loss claim, May 2011. My discharge exam shows a hearing problem, but within good hearing limits, however, 4-5 years later my hearing deteriorated and kept going down my entire adult life.

    The claim: RO requested a Nexus from the VA clinic; a total disaster! Doctor totally incompetent, did not even interview me and did not even submit a complete hearing test, but in capital letters, twice stating NOT IN MILITARY instead old-age. I had no idea what she wrote; thinking I just went for a hearing test. RO denied the claim. Appealed it and went to RO for a hearing May 2018 requested a 60-day delay to get another doctor’s Nexus. Provided it under 60-days but new information was hung up in the Intake system when the judge denied it again. Asked for a Reconsideration, got it April 2019, threw out the last denial and now sitting in a Remand state at the RO. The clam sits in conflict, the VA clinic incompetent Nexus and a private Doctor with a IEEE abstract stating Hearing Loss from radiation, and 51% chance it being military related and not old age. The RO is seeking now 4 Nexus, trying to resolve the conflict. Believe the doctor at the VA clinic lost her state certification and is no longer a registered doctor. My question, if a conflict exists doesn’t the veteran win? And should I jump into a different lane, I am being told because of my age I would get fast service???

    1. Clovis JosephPitre    

      All vets now get hiring aids and it does not have to be service injury related, I love mine no batteries, and blue tooth to phone and TV!!! go try yhrm

      1. Jerry Greelis    

        I do have hearing aides, they do not fix my hearing disability. My problem is discernment, I watched the video with my hearing aides and got NOTHING from it. I could not understand what the guy was saying.

  3. Frank Ruiz Jr    

    Filed USC 38 Article 1151 2004 finally in 2018 C&P exam in favor but sent back to remand.Knowing that 1151 is hard to win but May 30 2019 BVA grants error in 1151 case closed.Now at Regional Office for 20 days yet I am happy but C&P was in Veterans favor yet denied and BVA shockingly BVA goes back year 2004 when I filed 1151 due to Mesh infection and improperly being taken care by Tucson Arizona Veterans Hospital.

  4. Johnnie Martin    

    For all of you vets that have spent years fighting the VA, on your claim/s-Why don’t you retain the services of a Veterans Attorney? I went through the same thing(Lost records/Never received records//unable to read and understand their own C&P examinations). This went on for close to 10 years. I finally retained a very good one. It still took two appeals to the Court of Veterans Appeals-but finally won my claims. I realize a 20% cut is bad to some. However, I would never have won my claims without my attorney…

  5. Jerry Scott    

    Good day and thanks soo very much for what you do for us vets. I have a question. I am an Iraqi war vet suffering with tbi and ptsd. My tbi rated at %100 and ptsd rated at %70. I have been dealing with my conditions since my discharge (2009). Anyway I just recently found out about smc T for those with tbi and also that it is a benefit that VA automatically grants if you meet the criteria which I do. I just recently got granted smc S for housebound and my attorney has my case on appeal for smc T benefits. I wish to know from your prospective if I am granted smc T, do my effective date start from my original effective date which was when I was discharged from service? Thanks for your assistance.

  6. Juance E. Wilson    

    Jason, you are right about the notices going forth I know in 2018; because I received one. But we were also being told {let me say I} that if anyone went into the new process; that they would not be able to return to a formal hearing status after opting in. Which brings me back to the question at hand: are we able to return to a formal hearing if need be after we select this new option; if we feel an unjust decision was rendered on our behalf?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Juance, the formal BVA option is the third lane in the new AMA process. That lane has a goal of 365 days.

  7. Haze    

    VA sent you a claim decision
    on May 16, 2014
    VA received your Notice of Disagreement
    on May 12, 2015
    VA sent you a Statement of the Case
    on July 11, 2016
    VA recieved your Form 9
    on August 18, 2016
    Your appeal was sent to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals
    on August 28, 2017
    You attended a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge
    on April 05, 2019

    6/12/2019 Called BVA 1 800 923 8387 bva inquiry
    Now waiting on email from BVA 5 day wait.

  8. Filiberto Jimenez    

    Since 2009 file Veteran Servicece connected Disabilities. The Claim is denied several time. Wonder why the Va has not givin the Benefit of the Doubt in this claim. Veterant is 73 years old with PTSD, Lag and Back pain with low memory. Wonder why this claim is not aproved.

    1. Mike Perez    

      Hay Filiberto. If I may comment on your post. I have been working on my claims for so long I may be able to provide you a little guidence and insight. Based on your post, the veteran you are trying to help is in a bad situation. First and foremost questions; is he receiving health benefits from the V A ? If not, that would be the first thing to do. The health benefits are so much easier to deal with and much much faster to get. Not to mention bring him much relief. Provided he has all the proof of military service. There are also services to help homeless veterans.

      Compensation : it’s a long process and many time, even if you provide all the nesscessary documents; proof of service(DD214), medical records both military and civilian(pertaining to the disability you are claiming), doctors notes, nexus letters (connection to your service), buddy/spouse statements, sick call/injury slips . . . There is a good chance it will get denied. If he is missing any of those, it will get denied. If you submitted all of the above and got denied. All you can do is submit a notice of disagreement(NOD), if it’s within the 1 year time frame give to contest it. Provide a reasons why you disagree with new evidence if possible, and submit it to another lane in the system( as mentioned in the video above). You can also submit a letter to the BVA to give his claim a priority status based on his situation of being 73 yrs old and homeless (2 of 3 qualifying reasons I believe). It’s a trying process Fil. We are not one of the lucky one and just have to keep trying.

      Thank you for trying to help a brother in arms out. It is unfortunate that he is 1 of hundreds if not thousands in the same situation. I too tried to help a friend I came across. He got his rating but Unfortunately he passed shortly after.

      Good luck Filiberto. Hope this helped.

  9. Filiberto Jimenez    

    2019 file for Service Connected Disabilities. The claim was denied several times. Jackson & MacNichol 238 Western Avenue South Portland, Main 04106. Attorney at law have send all the information needed for a positive approval. Don;t know why haven’t giving the benefits of the doubt. Wen we all sing to served our Country we all sing a blank check. The claim is a 73 years old with Back, leg pain with PTSD and low memory that is agravated by the time, also he is homeless living in and old car garage at his sister house. Hope the VA approve this needed benefits as soon it is possible.

  10. Todd Smith    

    I met with a veterans law judge March 15, 2019 at my regional office. Why am I still waiting for a decision? When I check va.gov it says:
    Your appeal is waiting to be sent to a judge

    Your appeal is at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, waiting to be sent to a Veterans Law Judge. Staff at the Board will make sure your case is complete, accurate, and ready to be decided by a judge.

  11. Major Joe    

    VBA has a current target to reduce the legacy inventory to a steady state in FY 2020. VBA defines steady state as the elimination of all legacy inventory in the notice of disagreement (NOD) and substantive appeal (Form 9) ..

    So …your legacy appeal will only have about 16 months left at RO office. Then …,
    before or after FY 2020 all legacy appeals would be at the BVA

  12. George Davis    

    How does it take for comments to show? I submitted one on June 6th and it has not posted.

  13. Alexander smith    

    The va is not for the people of the United states, risking your life to come home and have people tell you that there’s nothing wrong with you when you’ve been ducking and dodging bullets getting blown up and barely making it home, but o NO your ok there’s nothing wrong with you. Sleep apnea is another 1 how in the heck do I go into the army without sleep apnea but come out the army with it. Now I’m confused do the VA really jus say to HELL with vets or jus really not care? Its plain as day I got sleep apnea from my experiences at war but O NO IM A LIAR WHEN I SAY SOMETHING. Smh the VA is a joke and will always be a JOKE

  14. Mike Perez    

    I submitted a statement/question couple days ago but don’t see it. Sorry if I duplicate.

    I inquired with our local V A office regarding the RAMP. I was advised that they haven’t seen or heard of any improvements to the process and because I was getting close to my claim being decided, they indirectly advise to stay where I’m at. Apparently a mistake. So if I understand correctly, I am stuck until I receive a SOC or a SSOC.

    Can I ,knowing that I will lose my effective date of years ago, withdraw my claim and start over ? It would be better to get a decision sooner than later and know where I stand, then to wait a few more years only to be denied again.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Mike, the legacy appeals process is averaging 3-7 years. RAMP, and now AMA, have only been open to all Vets for 16 months. So, that RAMP averaged 136 days and now AMA is averaging 46 days–compared to YEARS–it’s already a success.

      Yes, if you are in the legacy process, you remain there until you receive an SOC/SSOC and opt into AMA.

      We can’t recommend what route you take, but technically, yes, you can withdraw an appeal and begin a new claim.

      1. Mike Perez    

        HI JASON. I GOT WITH MY LOCAL OFFICE TO SUBMIT A REQUEST TO WITHDRAW MY DISABILITY CLAIM AND START ALL OVER AGAIN IN THE NEW PROCESS. I WILL LOOSE THE YEARS I HAVE BEEN WAITING, THAT WILL ENTITLE ME RETRO PAY SHOULD MY CLAIM BE APPROVED. I WAS INFORMED THAT WOULD HAVE TO WAIT FOR A CONFIRMATION BEFORE I CAN RE-SUBMIT AND BE ON THE “FAST TRACK” LANE.

        THIS WAITING HAS BEEN VERY FRUSTRATING AND STRESSFUL. MY FINGERS ARE CROSSED THAT BEFORE YEARS END I WILL BE RECEIVING THE BENEFITS I BELIEVE MY “WIFE” AND I DESERVE. EITHER WAY IT GOES, AT LEAST WE WILL KNOW WHAT OUR FUTURE HOLDS.

        GOOD LUCK EVERYBODY. PEACE TO ALL

  15. Lynne Hojnacke    

    In other words it’s all laid out in a leaflet but does it work Ask the veterans how well this has helped them Ask the veterans that have been denied for similar complaints WHY they did not receive a rating In Management everything can look good on paper This is what gets them their bonuses but really does not do justice for veterans who are suffering, who can’t work, those that live with constant pain, What about veterans who have to lose their houses, cars and other property to hit rock bottom only to still be denied I wish for some of these folks that the issues which plague service members affected those in upper management in congress, and the house ,state governors state political personnel who put their opinions into decisions with biased information from years past

  16. Michael G Wilson    

    Hi Jason, I really appreciate the way you try to answer all the questions on here.
    I have Agent Orange related Parkinson’s with a total rating of 70% for all the various symptoms plus tinnitus. Since I filed my claim back in December 2018 my insomnia/sleep disorder that I received a 30% rating has gotten much worse to the point that I am only getting 2 to 3 hours sleep a night. I have also developed sleep apnea and am going in for a sleep test at the end of this month. I may be asking this in the wrong place so forgive me if that is the case. I am curious if they find that I need a CPAP if the 50% will be combined with the insomnia or will it be considered a separate symptom?

    Thanks so much

  17. Chris Garrison    

    I’m in the same position as Sharon. Have a claim I submitted 7 years ago for secondary illness, denied, appealed, primary rating was changed and showed secondary, second appeal denied, third appeal I asked o go before the judge. Judge looked at it and remanded it back to the VA. Now I have 14 to 29 months before I have a C&P for it.
    I asked my state rep about the RAMP program and was told I WOULD lose any back pay from the original claim if I changed over.
    Sorry, I worked for the VA for six years and don’t trust what they say. Show it to me in writing.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Chris, your rep gave you false or misleading information. We’ve awarded $375 million to tens of thousands in retroactive payments in RAMP/AMA since late 2017. This “don’t get backpay myth” is busted by the Director of the Appeals Management Office in the video above.

      1. Mike Perez    

        I must say Jason there is a major lack of communication regarding the new system. I corrected a V A representative (just yesterday) regarding losing time if you move to the improved system. He was sure I would lose it if I transferred. Hope he took the time to clairify.

    2. Rickie Oneal    

      Like Chris and Sharon, I appealed a decision in May of 2011. Went before a VA judge the September of 2017, who remanded it back to the VA. My case is now sitting dormant in RFD status since 1st of May 2018. My name is Rickie O’Neal, and I’d like to know what I can do to speed this process up, and a decision be rendered immediately if not sooner?

  18. Mike Perez    

    Ok, so u talk about things being broken, claims taking for ever, claims going back and forth and so on and so on with the legacy process. If it’s clearly not working. Why not just transfer claim to the new system. Claimant on the top of the legacy list have priority. If it’s in the best interest of the veteran, Just transfer us. Let us know this is how it’s going to be now. You are number . . . . And that’s it. If we wish to take another route, then so be it.

    Apparently that is not happening, so how do I get out of the legacy system and on the the “fast track” system ?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Mike, in November 2017, we sent invitations for RAMP to the 5000 Vets with the very oldest appeals. In December 2017, we extended to a larger number of the next oldest appeals. These invitations continued through March 2018. In April 2018, we opened RAMP to everyone with a pending appeal. RAMP was a temporary sneak peek at the AMA, and it closed in February 2019 when AMA opened. So, yes, every single one of the oldest appeals in the system had a personal invitation and priority to opt into the new system. 🙂

      The simple answer is that we cannot force Vets from the old pile into the new pile. The video above explains how, once you receive an SOC or SSOC, you will have 60 days to opt into AMA and out of the legacy process.

      1. Will C.    

        My RAMP case is still going on and it’s been over a year. My Ramp start date is May 21, 2018 and now they are saying that my completion date is May 19, 2021. How is this even possible?

    2. Todd Smith    

      I saw a veterans law judge during a travel board hearing March 15, 2019 in regards to my appeal. Why am I still waiting for a decision?

  19. Peter M Claffey    

    I have been working through San Joaquin Veterans Services since 2013. I was told the first pass would take 9 months and would be denied, which it was and and we submitted an appeal which I was told would take several years. Last year I went with RAMP and after 6 months I got a phone interview with someone who was definitely non-military. I was in the US Navy P3 Squadron VP 50 and orders read Sangley Point PI and such other places as necessary. After the phone interview I was again denied and again I appealed. Using the local office of my US House Representative I got my Squadrons History from the National Archives that stated that VP 50 was stationed in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. Now it took me two months to get these records.
    Where have the people who are reviewing my claim, and denying that I was in Vietnam been looking?
    I am appealing my claim using their own records
    This kinda proves the plan “deny,deny until they die”.

  20. Peter Van Dermark    

    Please explain to a Veteran who resides outside the States how do they reply under the 60 day rule when you send their mail via Sweden or Belgium or leave the Country code off of their address. That mail takes over 60 days from the date of the letter. I also have proof of letters being dated and mail not sent in a timely fashion and returned to the RO. In those cases something must be done including reissuing the letter when over a month has already pasted. Also why is my mail being sent via Other Countries.

  21. Jerry Pringle    

    let’s see now, the mission statement of the administration was to render compensation for injuries, illnesses incurred during
    service in the military!! since that time the statement have been strained, sifted, twisted to not render the simple task of gratitude for serving in the military! this remind me of the BLUE BOOK incidents where they went around discouraging and changing the peoples mind of what they’ve witnessed or seen!! as I look at the attributes to WWII service men & women I think of my father he fought in Germany and in Korea was wounded in both had shrapnel in his belly till death, suffered PTSD, drank himself into the grave… was never compensated or recognized except given the Purple Heart double cluster!! I ended in his division 3ID in Germany and assigned to Headquarters Korea! he was a tank sergeant I was signal. if the medical record says that you had this symptom described by the doctor. why do he has to prove anything from that point. the administration should take the medical record screen it and determine what the veteran can or cannot claim! this time disbursement of years was to be cleared with the last three presidents. yet the admin just find ways to take avenues away from the veteran. can someone in charge do something!!!!!!!!!

  22. Felipe Padilla    

    After thinking about it for months and waiting close to 7 years for a decision, I decided to use RAMP. My case was remand with a favorable decision from the board and still 3 years later no decision has been made at my local office. The decision took 6 months, if we count the waiting period before they knowledge receiving your file, and less than 90 days for a final decision.
    The RO who reviewed my file actually noticed and highlighted several points that I have explained several times at my local VA office in reference to previous claims without results but was unable to help me in those situations, but he did review my present claim carefully and agreed with the Board of Appeals decision. After that it was just waiting several months for DFAS and VA to process payment.
    I think that the RAMP program offers an alternative to us older retired soldiers that could even died waiting for a decision from our local VA office and seriously my mental health could not handle anymore of the excuses given to me.

  23. Joseph Meyers    

    I have been in the legacy for 6 years they now say (VA) that I am on the docket for the hearing. I am 71 and the way this process is going i will probably not be around. I get so frustrated with all the stuff you have to come up with just to prove your case when it is all in plain site.

  24. Mike Perez    

    My ebenefits tracker states “status unknown” for several months now. What does that mean ? What does

  25. Michael Lewis    

    I would like to opt in the ramp decision board

  26. William waugh    

    V.A. is waiting for everyone who has a legal claim to die. They don’t give a crap about the vet. The more money they save V.A.the more their bonus. I have been waiting 11 years and still have a open claim. They tell me when I call the 1800-827-1000 number that there is no time limit on appeals maybe president Trump could change the time limit

  27. Michael Presley    

    As a Vietnam Veteran I have been a patient at the VA since 2002. I have filed claims and appeals since about 2003-04. I have found that every new and improved claim and appeal system that the VA institutes creates a new and faster way to denial. (remember the “Fast Track” system?) Although I have had claims go 5-8 years on appeal with an eventual ruling in my favor, I prefer to be patient than file under these newly created systems and be denied quicker. Although I am well aware that some day I won’t have 5-8 years to wait for an appeal runling, I prefer to stick to the traditional appeal process. So I say, be patient and eventually after 3,5,8 years you may get someone’s attention. My worry now is that the VA will someday convince themselves that these new dream systems are perfect and do away with the traditional appeal process.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Michael, the rating criteria hasn’t changed. All things being equal, you will receive the same decision in AMA than you would in legacy–just quicker.

      Something you wrote was interesting, though: “I have had claims go 5-8 years on appeal with an eventual ruling in my favor.” What many people don’t understand is that when VA denies a claim, it isn’t saying VA doesn’t believe you don’t have the thing you’re claiming, only that the presented evidence cannot grant a service connection. But as you found out, in time, with more and new evidence and understanding of the process, you were able to have the decision overturned, perhaps after several unfavorable decision points. In the AMA, the Supplemental Claim Lane brings all of that to the front end, allowing the Vet to work with VA toward a favorable outcome–in weeks, not years.

      As for the legacy process? It is now closed to new appeals. When those remaining are completed, it will go away.

  28. kevin henson    

    hello ron I have been in the ramp program since 2017 and have been in the appeals process since 2005. I was given 30 percent in 2014 but was denied on several medical facts from my military service which included severe burns and torn meniscus in my knee. I appealed in 2014 and was waiting when I received the opt in letter for RAMP. I opted in in 2017 and just recently my case was said to be in preparation for decision between june11 to june 29th of this year2019. I just went online and now they are saying my decision will not be made until january2020 to july 2020. What gives. Am I back in the legacy program? 126 days my alphabet!!!

  29. Clayton Phipps    

    The VA legacy and modern appeal process is crap I’m in year 8 of an appeal, I think they are waiting for me to die at this point. Been before the judge that was supposed to take 30 days for a reply 180 days later still waiting for a reply within 30 days, it’s going to get remanded because the VA broke their own exam and rating rules, which means more waiting for a new rating after I wait for a new exam. At this point they will owe me over 100k just for the retroactive backpay. I’d raise a stink with my senators but every time you do it resets you to the bottom according to many I have talked to within the VA and VSOs

  30. Tyra Nicole    

    The RAMP program is a load of crap! They entice you into switching your claim over that’s been pending in the board of appeals for years so you can get a fast response, then wait 125 days only to tell you that you have been denied. It’s not just me I have spoken to several vets who are experienced this. They can easily say on blogs that they are processing claims faster but in reality they are denying claims faster and making it look like they’re are doing a great job by reducing the number of people waiting on a decision. It’s such a disservice to the people who served this country.

    In my case they actually stated on one line that they found the evidence of my claims located in my medical record with page numbers and all but on the next line state that my issues did not occur during my military service. It is such a contradiction and I cannot believe they are getting away with this. I do not encourage the RAMP program and will continue to speak out against it. It’s always the same with us vets..they just simply do not care. I will not give up and I’m building up a strong team that all have been duped by this false advertising.

    Before you ask what I included, please don’t insult me or anyone else on here. Medical records from then and now to show how things started and progressed were provided, statements from friends, co-workers, spouse. You name it, I included it. It was like they looked in my military medical record, picked out a couple of things and decided to compensate me but the rest they deny by saying it didn’t occur at all during my military service. Every single claim came out of my medical record which they acknowledged on decision page after the RAMP program tossed it out. I had numerous people to view their decision to show that I was not making this up. Truly unbelievable..

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Tyra, the RAMP program was extremely successful, and it and AMA have led to $375 million in retroactive benefits payments to Vets who had opted in. That’s a lot of granting.

      As for the difference between legacy and RAMP (and the new AMA), the rating criteria hasn’t changed. If you were denied in RAMP, you would have been denied in legacy–just several years slower. But the benefit of RAMP and AMA is that you can, after getting a decision, move it into a new lane for another decision. In fact, as long as you keep providing new evidence, you can keep it active in any of the three lanes after each decision.

      If you need assistance, we recommend speaking to your regional office’s Public Contact, or working with a certified VSO.

      1. SP4 Vance Greiner    

        Hello Jason:
        Vance Greiner 96B10 Intel Analyst, 8 Yrs Service 4 Active 4 Active Reserves 3 Honorable Discharges!
        Injured multiple times on Active Duty. Medical record prove it after a nightmare of years to get service records.
        4 injuries denied all as not service connected. Back and forth with VA since 2003. Finally 1 approved in 2013 at 10% all others denied again even with proof!(VA Records and treatment)! 2nd approved in 2018 10% all others denied as not service Connected you see the game they play with us vets. VA sent my SOC 3 Years after my NOD I joined Ramp Oct 2018, Jan 31st 2019 my appeal was closed in error (according to VA)and it has not been reactivated, inquired twice to VA no answer as to who closed it in error and why and my lawyer can’t get an answer either This occurred during RAMP phase out and AMA phase in .I as a Veteran am tired of this treatment as are many Veterans Something needs to be done now. Veterans don’t feel the love when they are told it did not happen in service you are denied The way they rate you say that statement sucks and is calling a Veteran who served a liar! Many of our brothers and sisters are taking their own lives everyday! This can not go Come on VA wake the hell up answer your Vets like they answered the call too serve!

    2. Jerome Washington    

      Been through some of this same drama. Records disappearing and paperwork sent to me which is dated 90 days from when I received it. I guess this was a way to give me less time to appeal. They would not have sent it had I not called and complained. These actions are intentional. My Father -in-Law is going through the same thing.

  31. Rayna Gangi    

    Female Viet Nam era Marine. In perfect health at enlistment, but hospitalized 6montgs later with massive edema, nodules and pain. Diagnosed first as a “female” disease, then redacted and changed to a “skin condition.” Placed on 16 aspirin per day for deteriorating knees and pain. Visited VA at home after discharge and was told they didn’t treat females. I used alternative medicine for years so I could work i.e chiropractor, massage, reflexology. In 2009 the condition returned with the same symptoms, but now exacerbated from age. I fell alot both in service and after and x-rays showed fractures of the sacrum. I applied in 2010, was denied in 2011, appealed but they lost the appeal papers. Appealed again and denied. Appealed again but was told I was no longer in the system and had to start from scratch. Denied in 2012, appealed, denied in 2014. Began again with no records found, was denied and appealed again in 2016. Now waiting for American Legion to review? Unable to walk, stage 4 spondiolythesis with multiple related problems. Yes, I do believe the VA waits until we quit or die.

  32. RONALD RAY RIESS    

    What video above? When I click it your picture is only enlarged.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Ronald, at the very top is a picture of Dave taken from the video. Then there are a few paragraphs of blog text below that. Beneath the text is a video. There is a big white play button in the middle of the video’s picture. Click on it to watch the video. 🙂

  33. Robert l. Robinson    

    Hey folks listen to this , I had a local hearing at the regional office the judge told me to supply proof of location and the claim would be a FAVORABLE CLAIM so two weeks later I did just that. and the time of the hearing I was represented by the legion agent and I sent him the information ( the judge said that I had 30 days before she would close the file ) so I waited and in 45 days or so I received a denial letter because I didn’t supply the required information that was asked for, but wait I did sent that proof to my rep. so what going on , well MY REP,from the legion had left the service and my info went missing in action and I got dropped between the cracks and there was no way to fix it . My case would had been settled and I would not be telling this sad but familiar story and would you believe it that there is no one to hold accountable.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Robert, I’m sorry to hear that. But keep in mind that an appeal is never closed and completed until 365 days pass after the decision. So, if that denial letter was within 365 days, you can keep the appeal alive by including that information. In fact, if that decision was an SOC or SSOC, you can opt into the new AMA process, too.

    2. Jerome Washington    

      Once again they all are working together. The poor have always fought and sacrificed for the rich. To later be treated like dirt.

    3. Jerome Washington    

      I truly wonder how those who leave service, file a claim for headaches and receive $2500 per month.
      My Father-in-Law was in Vietnam, sprayed with Napom, and now has to many injuries to list in this blog, and has been denied for Many, Many, Many, Many years !!!!!

  34. Sharon Davis    

    My husband’s has been waiting 7 years in the “legacy appeals process”. His case was remanded back to the RO. We checked on ebenefits and was told it could take up to 29 months from the date of the letter, September 2018 before his case is even reviewed. He is in 126000’s in the line for his appeal to be completed(we guess). Seeing the horror stories about switching his case to the new AMA is scary. At this point what should we do?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Sharon, I’m not aware of any AMA horror stories. The AMA has been active since February and it’s averaging 36 days. I read thousands of comments on social media each week, many just like yours. Seven years in the legacy process is unacceptable. That’s why it’s closed to new appeals, and why we have a modern process. We can’t actually tell you what to do, but we can say that you lose absolutely nothing by opting into the new process. Since none of the actual rating criteria has changed, you will get the same decision–just years sooner.

  35. paul feldman    

    HOW DO I GO ABOUT MAKING A FIRST APPEAL TO A REJECTION FOR BACK INJURY DERIVED FROM

    FALLING OUT OF A DEFECTIVE PARACHUTE HARNESS DURING PARACHUTE TRAINING…

    THERE IS NO RECORD OF BEING TREATED FOR THIS ONGOING INJURY AT THE V.A. BECAUSE I HAVE

    BEEN TREATED AT KAISER ALL THESE YEARS. I AM A 94 YEAR OLD AIR FORCE VETERAN OF WW2

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Paul, thank you for your service!

      If you received a claim decision within the past 365 days, you can appeal that decision with the Notice of Disagreement included with the decision. If your claim decision is older than 365 days, it cannot be appealed. If this is the case, then you can file a new claim. With that claim, you can submit the Kaiser treatment records as evidence. However, you will need to include evidence from your military records of an event or injury or treatment. If you need assistance with gather records or assembling and submitting a claim, we recommend using a certified VSO–such as VFW, American Legion, DAV, etc.

  36. David R klear    

    I’m a 72 year old vet Been getting these EMails on how great the new things are going to be. I have been fighting since VA since 2007. I was initially told I wasn’t qualified for benefits since I hadn’t used the system. Which no one ever told us Nam vets about. We only knew you went there to die.
    Fast forward, I was turned down in 2018 for a claim on my knees. After spending 4 years on carrier flight decks carrying 100 lbs of chains on my back, There was no medical examination even though my knees were documented as being bad on my enlistment record.

    Basically told i didn’t whine enough as there were no medical records of me seeking treatment. even though I explained in my claim that I was told by doctors not to have my knees operated on till the technology was good enough. To basically “tough it out as long as you can! (The reason why is well explained by the one of the comments above Donna Forsse who lost her knee) and to quote you
    “Hi James, the simple answer is that it’s in the Code of Federal Regulations. Any injury or medical condition incurred or aggravated by active military service can be claimed for compensation.”

    A few weeks later I get a call from some shell company Tri Cities or something contending they represented the VA and they would help me get new knees.. I made the appointment, saw the doctor, did all the pre- qualification to get it done and now I have set here for 10 months now waiting for final authorization
    Its my contention that the VA is split into two systems. If your in a metropolitan area you can get decent care. if you live out her in the sticks, with a 106 mile round trip, you dont get paid for despite submitting vouchers, and your old they basically ignore you. and despite the fact we have full medical facilitates only 9 miles from here but am told they dont “qualify” Yet i continue to pay for Part A&B SS so when I have a kidney stone I don’t have to wait ten months for treatment

    Never mind the fact that are “local rep” does little if anything to help, to really spend the time and fight for you and wade through the maize of paper work

  37. Melanie    

    Interesting- my LT knee disability compensation has been discontinued . All of my appeals have been denied. I have permanent knee damage from my time in the Navy and will need a total knee replacement, I’ve had multiple Acl reconstruction revisions .. I could go on and on.. I keep getting appeals denied and even better each time I call I am told that I did not submit requests for appeals , when I’m fact I have. I’m told that the va doesn’t have access to records of my most recent surgery in 2013 , which is ridiculous because the VA docs referred me to a civilian ortho doc AND paid for my surgery to be done . Now here’s the Best part , I am actually a Nurse Practitioner and work in Orthopedic trauma , I know when the attempts that are being made to dismiss the validity of my claim are frivolous.
    It’s a frustrating and grueling process. I truly do hope the system improves for our Veterans. I’m sorry for all of the trouble my fellow brothers and sisters have endured by trying to get the compensation they were promised for legitimate service connected medical diagnoses.
    Thank you all for your service .

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Melanie, sorry to hear about what’s going on. Since we can’t get into PII, I want to throw a few general questions out there to see if one or a few stick.

      -Have you updated your contact information in eBenefits or VA.gov? This is different than changing your contact info at your local VAMC, and it’s how VBA will know how to contact you (again, different than how VHA will contact you). Oftentimes, VA will send letters to Vets, and they won’t get returned or replied to.

      -Which leads me to, Are your SC conditions T&P? If not, does your original claim decision letter mention a “Routine Future Examination?” or RFE? Generally speaking, the body heals. Some medical conditions have built-in checkups, called RFEs. If VA believes that your condition has improved, or could have improved, then the RFE is the exam to find out. Again, this will be sent by mail from VBA, which is why I asked if your contact info is up to date in eBen/VA.gov.

      -Did your private provider sign and submit a release of information to VA, so that VA could have those private records?

      -What does your eBenefits historical claims and appeals tab show? Are those claims and appeals listed in there?

      -Lastly, do you have a pending claim or appeal for one of the claims you say has been closed? VA will merge or close new claims with medical conditions that are the same as those in a pending claim or appeal.

      1. Kim C    

        My husband has PTSD and Non Hodgkin Lymphoma twice now. We filed on both in 10/2008. We have been in appeals since 4/2017. HOw long before we get to a board hearing???? THis has been 10 years!!! My husband has not worked in those 10 years due to the PTSD and cancer. We have lost everything as well.

  38. Daniel J. Brown    

    What if your claim is in “remand” status, still do not know what that means but could be another 18 to 24 months for a decision?
    Had my hearing with DAV and the judge, I filed in 2013, and already submitted a letter from a private physician that my agent orange exposure for my COPD and asthma was a result of exposure to Agent Orange.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Daniel, a remand usually means that BVA couldn’t overturn a lower decision, meaning they couldn’t grant, so they send it back to the RO for more work. Basically, back to the end of the line. Yes, this is one of the reasons why the new appeals process is so great–you’re not locked to one lane and a slow and endless loop. If you receive a SOC or SSOC, then you will be able to opt into the new process.

  39. Ruth Rinne    

    My husband has been denied increase in his benefits following 3 heart stents after the original one. The original one was done 7 years ago. At that time he was awarded 30% disability for a presumptive diagnosis of CAD due to Agent Orange Exposure in Nam. He also has high blood pressure. Generally you do not have the CAD without the high blood pressure or the high blood pressure without the CAD. If these additional heart stents were not done he could of needed further surgery or it could have resulted in his death. Can you please explain to why he can not get an increase in his disability with the additional heart stents or the high blood pressure? After all he is receiving all his heart meds which include for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even his aspirin free from the VA.

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Ruth, I’m editing my original comment due to addition information I just received:

      “Hypertension (HTN) is not one of the presumptive disabilities for herbicide exposure, however the Veteran could in fact file a new claim for the HTN. Normally, the evaluation of CAD is based on diagnostic testing (i.e. EKG, stress test, Echocardiogram, etc). If the Veteran disagrees with the evaluation assigned and the denial was mailed within the last year, he may file a request for review under the Higher Level lane, the Supplemental Claim lane, or an appeal” to BVA in the new AMA process.

      More info on filing, here: https://www.va.gov/disability/how-to-file-claim/

      Or, if he’d prefer, he can file through a certified VSO.

  40. Rodney Hill    

    Well after my appeal dated August 2010, countless denials, and never quitting because my conditions continues to get worst, finally a partial grant for PTSD and Depression, with a remand for TDIU. My only questions is after 9 years of waiting, how much longer must I wait for a rating. I guess the new process has opened up a QUE management process, where rating decisions go into a que and can now be worked in different Regional Office’s. I guess living in Missouri, it is being worked in San Diego.
    Although the 800# gives a standard response, can anyone tell me how long it takes to get a rating decission? I have read a few Vet’s post, they say several weeks, some say 125 days. I guess I’d like to hear some good news for a change.

    1. Rodney Hill    

      Just to clarify, it has been a long battle, but now that I am close to the end. There is something good to say about the new process. I received a SOC which was a deny, I was able to submit new medical evidence and in less than 30 days I was granted. So with the help of a good attorney who navigated the appeals process and my calls on a weekly bases bugging the He– out of them we prevailed. (I know I had very little to do with it, just saying).
      Depression, PTSD, and chronic pain is no joking matter it has made me a unpleasant person mostly everyday. Keep up the faith and get some help with your claims. You can not do it on your own and I recommend a good attorney.

    2. Jason Davis    

      Hi Rodney, we unveiled the National Work Queue in 2016. This automatically routes claims to the first available station. I’m not certain, but I don’t think this affects appeals.

      It’s impossible for me to know which process you are in. Claims average about 109 days. Appeals in the legacy process average 3-7 years. The new process is currently averaging 36 days–but our goal is 125 days.

      Your comment is indicative of what we’re seeing everyday–that the old process was laborious, complex, didn’t help Veterans, and that immediately, as soon as you stepped into the new process, you were able to work with VA for a timely and favorable result. While retaining an attorney’s resources is your legal right, it’s not necessary. Rather, it’s just one of the available resources, to include self filing, and using a free, trained, and certified VSO.

  41. Joseph Szafranski    

    Got a decision from AMC back in September 2018 granting two issues on legacy appeal with effective dates of October 2012. Those grants changed my overall rating from 70 to 80%. That should have generated a retropay but here we are in May 2019 with no payment. Will AMA move me any closer to payment issued?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Joseph, your decision letter should note your effective dates and whether or not you are due retroactive benefit payments. If, in fact, you are due, I suggest calling us 800-827-1000, or submitting an IRIS message, here: https://iris.custhelp.va.gov/app/ask

  42. BJ John    

    I am currently in the Legacy program and recently filed for hardship. How long will it take to receive a my SOC or SSOC to opt into the new program.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi BJ, an SOC and SSOC are considered decision points. If your appeal is granted, you won’t get one. If your appeal is denied, you will get one. It really isn’t possible for me to give an answer on when. Best I can do is point you to the status tracker on VA.gov, which provides an estimate.

  43. Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve    

    Again, VETS, Immediately upon receiving denial of your claim, DEMAND a HEARING ON THE RECORD WITHIN 30 DAYS, (where you will appear with your lawyer, EXPERTS, and records. You must get these people in the open on the record, or you will be paddling upstream forever

  44. Ron Berry    

    My claim has been on appeal since 2012 ! Currently working with D.A.V. . Good organization. I had a C and P exam, July 2018. I STILL have not received a letter from that ! Had another on the first of May, still haven’t heard from that either ! I have had 4 back procedures in the last 14 months.
    I DO realize part of My problem was from working with The PVA. That is definitely a do nothing organization. But the VA takes entirely too long to settle claims and appeals. And absolutely WILL NOT communicate with the Veteran. There have been several directors over the past few years. Lots of talk. Big fancy billboards. But internally, nothing changes.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Ron, the C&P exam report goes to VBA, not the Veteran. Based on the dates you listed, it sounds like you are in the legacy appeals process. The video above explains the benefits of the new process, as well as two new ways to opt into it. 🙂

  45. Raymond Cook    

    It is very sad to me to read all of these horrible stories. I though the system was supposed to get better. Where is the improvement? I have been waiting 12 months and when I go on va.gov it just gives me a status of “Decision Review Officer is reviewing your appeal” which is the same status it has always been in. I have provided my military medical records as well as my current medical records and I was examined by a VA doctor. Just trying to appeal my effective date, I don’t understand what takes so long.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Raymond, when did you appeal? Before February 2019? If so, it’s probable that you’re in the old, broken process. The video above explains the benefits of the new process, as well as two new ways to get into it. As of February 19, 2019, all new appeals go into the new process. The legacy process is closed to new appeals and, eventually, will close for good.

  46. Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve    

    NOW THEY HAVE CAPTCHA TO KEEP YOUR COMMENTS OUT.

    1. Jason Davis    

      We remove spam and other malicious content before it gets published. Your comments have been published. 🙂

  47. Cecil Hersey    

    Just a note to say if it took them almost 2 years to actually implement the act, they are definitely in no hurry to actually take actions on appeals submitted. I have been processing my heart condition since Feb 2017, with a disapproval and appeal received by the VA on 25 May 2018. Enrolled in RAMP, but my status of my appeal being reviewed has not changed in over 8 months.

    “Today (19 Feb 2019) the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it has implemented the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which was signed into law Aug. 23, 2017, and represents one of the most significant statutory changes to benefit Veterans in decades.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Cecil, the law was passed in August 2017, and two months later we were processing these under RAMP. We continued to process tens of thousands of RAMP cases until the act was implemented in February. So, not “almost two years.” 🙂

      Currently, there are a handful of RAMP cases pending, and we hope to complete those soon.

      1. Cecil Hersey    

        Thank you for the quick response. I look forward to hearing an answer on my appeal.

  48. Robert Logan    

    ex·pe·di·tious
    /ˌekspəˈdiSHəs/
    adjective
    done with speed and efficiency.
    “an expeditious manner”
    synonyms: speedy, swift, quick, rapid, fast; prompt, punctual, immediate, instant, sudden; high-speed, fast-track, whistle-stop, lightning, meteoric, whirlwind; brisk, nimble; efficient, diligent; hasty, summary, abrupt;
    “the expeditious processing of his VBA remand”
    Q? VBA remanded due to 3 out of 4 IMO’s missing from file, when all 4 were sent together. HOW can the VBA loose DIGITAL paperwork?
    Q? How come a veteran is given days to respond, when the VBA takes YEARS to “Not respond”?
    Q? Why does the VBA/RO manuals say “expeditious manner” on remands and when required remanded paperwork is received as requested, a decision is to be made in 30 days?
    Q? So being told I’m 41,000 in line with average wait time over 3 years is expeditious? Please read the dictionary meaning posted above and get back with me. Oh, and the VBA manual on the 30 day issue.
    Q? How can the VBA tout the “The New Modernization Act” so vigorously, yet leave behind 200,000 veterans? Oh, that’s right, sit on those claims til 2020 and MAKE them join “the modernization act”, since they didn’t volunteer for RAMP.
    Q? How can the VBA tout to congress “Appeals are a second chance” “most are already rated” when the initial rating isn’t even close to the veterans disabilities?
    Q? Why is it, at the VA veterans hear ” your not rated high enough” even come into play ( with other benefits) when veterans are waiting 7+ years for an “expeditious” claim .
    SO many questions…
    I’m not asking for favoritism, I’m not trying to jump a line, or lane, just asking for a decision. I’ve waited my turn.

  49. George Matousek    

    I applied in Aug. 2015. I have been denied repeatedly. They wanted me to see their doctor in 2015, I went , wasn’t a doctor, she was someone who worked for the doctor ( don’t know if she was even a nurse) . Now I was to be on the agenda for the National Board last Feb. 19,2019, still not on the agenda, I was told they don’t know when it will be set up to begin. The denials were because my skin caner did not show up within a year of my service with the Marines in 1969. The National Caner Society told me cancer cells can stay dormat for years and years before becoming active. The VA dosen’t follow their own rules about settling claims. I think they are waiting for us to die (since there are thousands of guys complaining about Agent Orange) which means lots and lots of money. They agree I was exposed and in Nam, but it doesn’t cover my cancer. I can even remember two instances where I was sprayed, once in my face, where the cancer is located. This is all very sad that we are treated like this. Semper Fi

  50. Tom Nocton    

    I have been considering an appeal process to try and get some medical help on old injuries from active duty days. However, I now see that VA is still doing what it was originally chartered to do. That is to insure the retied Soldier get’s as little as possible for what is due. After reading the above comments, I can truly say that life is short and the unnecessary time requirements in the VA appeals process will definitely make it shorter.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Tom, if you would like medical help, please click here: https://www.va.gov/health-care/

      The appeals process is a system for Vets to formally file a disagreement with a decision VBA made on a Vet’s disability compensation claim. This is administered by VBA, and the laws governing it are more than 80 years old. That system was broken, and often took several years to render a single second decision. This blog discusses a new way for Vets locked in that broken system a way to opt into the new, modern appeals process.

      As the video above shows, we’ve granted more than $375 million in retroactive benefits. That’s a lot of granting of benefits.

  51. Don W. Kemp    

    Multiple diagnosis between 1988 & 1992 of which none are Diabetes or Cancer other than skin cancer, VA says I was not exposed to Agent Orange. Even a confirmed location of Agent orange at Utapao AB, Thailand & my workstation was the 11th USAF Hospital which backed up to the Klung which was infested requiring the burning with Agent Orange.
    Now nearing age of 83, with even more medical problems, but still no Diabetes or Cancer, all of my Doctors have been convinced since 1990 that I had to be exposed to Agent Orange.
    Obviously, VA is not as sympathetic as Doctors, but who should be the correct Judge? Apparently, VA is waiting until almost the end of our lives before they finally realize that maybe the Doctors were right.
    Still, Vietnam era veterans are not very important, and never have been from the day we returned home.

  52. Lorin Berry    

    I appealed a claim in 2017. Last year I was asked by VA, via e-mails, to switch to the new RAMP System. This was over a year after I appealed. So I did and they say back then that average claim time is 120 days. This article says 36 days, Since mine started in Oct 2018 it has been 8 months, over 240 days. So they must approve some in a few days to have an average of 36 days.
    A few years back, the initial claim wait time was over a year-2 years. Congress complained and VA hired a bunch of new claims people. But they had zero experience, and they are not Medical folks reviewing the claims, but admin folks. So they got the initial claim wait time down, but at same time, these new, unqualified folks made some dumb mistakes. So guess what, they Appeal waiting time skyrockets from less than a year to as much as 7 years. So now we have a new improved RAMP system and they aren’t doing what they said they would do.
    After I filed the RAMP, I was not seen or did I hear from VA until after the 120 day point. So I was seen by an Indian female doctor who spent 40 minutes inputting data into the computer prior to starting physical exam. She spent less than 5 minutes doing exam of Total knee replacement, and severe back structure issues.
    I told her during exam that I disagreed with one of her statements. So about three months later I received another e-mail/letter and phone call. I had to have an additional exam. This time by the same Doctor who did initial claim exam back in 2017. I told him about previous exam and he said I was the forth person he had seen in last 30 days with same problem with Indian Doctor. He made a comment in notes about her not doing physical exam, and she actually used measurement form his 2017 exam to fill in data. But he also showed me differences in exam, it is now much worse than 2017 and she could not have gotten the data she inputted.
    So now I am back in same waiting period. It has been over 30 days since the second exam and still no updates.
    I also got a letter from VA asking if I have any medical records from 1986-1997 as they could not find them. But they had also looked within VA back in 2017 for same records. So they repeated the same request, just 19 months later.
    o much for a new improved system to process claims.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Lorin, RAMP closed in February 2019. As Dave mentions in the video, RAMP averaged about 130 days, which is slightly higher than our 125-day goal.

      RAMP was a temporary sneak peek at the new AMA, and it was an opportunity for those–like you–to move out of the old, broken, legacy appeals process. Currently, there is a small group of RAMP claims pending, and are being completed everyday. Those are not part of the AMA’s current 36-day average.

      Based on the limited information provided (thank you for not posting PII), whether you have a medical condition is not in question, but rather that your medical condition was caused by active military service is? That’s why VA would want your military records. If you didn’t include your military records as evidence with your claim, then VA will have a hard time connecting the injury to your service.

      The new and improved appeals process allows us to do all of this with less red tape (antiquated laws), and to actually work with Vets in some instances in getting them to a favorable decision.

    2. Robert Leinberger    

      I have multiple disabilities and am at 90%. I filed had filed an appeal to upgrade to 100%. Then in June of 2018 I got the RAMP request and sent it in. I hadn’t heard anything as of of May 31,2019. So I called VA and when I talked to a representative I was told it had been received but not forwarded to the right agency. I ask him why and he couldn’t give me a reason. He said there must have been a mistake so he said he would forward it. This isn’t the first time I have had problems with the VA. I have also had problems at the VA hospital that I go to. No wonder so many Veterans commit suicide.

    3. Vincent F. Mazzei    

      Your letter sounded VERY familiar! Was that female Indian Doctor at the Syracuse VA by chance? I had a similar experience with a female Indian Doctor. She was the same one who did my last C&P that got my claim denied the last time. Oddly enough, she even went as far as telling me straight out that I should NOT expect any increase in my claim/disability! I thought they were only supposed to do an exam, ask a few pertinent questions and send you on your way. Since when are they the decision makers on how the claim will shake out? Surely there input DOES have significant impact on ones claims. I have been waiting for NINE YEARS for my appeal to make it through the process. Mine is in remand at the RO. It was kicked back from the Veterans Appeal Judge to the RO to do some more work. I was told it should not stay at the RO for more than 30 days and it has been several MONTHS! There was new evidence that was submitted before that was NOT considered, and I again submitted even more NEW and supporting evidence this time. My claim should be a clear cut approval but still they wait. I too, believe they wait us out to see if we die first. “Delay, Deny, and Hope You Die” is the VA way of thinking. I did a lot of research and was under the impression that if the evidence was SO compelling and it was at a 50/50 status… WE the veteran were supposed to be granted the benefit of the doubt and GRANTED OUR APPEAL and given the benefits we have earned. A huge thank you to all my brothers and sisters out there for their service and sacrifice! God bless you all!

  53. Frank F Miles    

    I have a PTSD case that was originally appealed in March 2012 and was remanded over a year ago. All updated paperwork has been submitted as per VA remand /appeal request. I am presently # 19,564 on the list and based on the timeliness of completing these remands it appears I am going to have to wait for a final decision another 2-3 years. This will total 9-10 years before a final decision is made. How does any new system help me? or how can my case be expedited?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Frank, a remand means that BVA couldn’t overturn a lower decision. But having been to BVA means that you first received a Statement of the Case, which is also a decision, before moving up to BVA. So, in all, you’ve received at least two decisions since your claim was completed. And now you’re stuck. This is a scenario we see a lot. We’re not happy about it, and we know you’re not happy about it. It’s why, for years, we’ve been wanting a newer, more modern process that doesn’t take years to get to a single decision point.

      You ask, how can the new system help you? Well, first, you have to get into the new system. You’re still in the legacy system, which is now closed to new appeals and which will someday be closed for good. The video above explains the benefits of the new system and also how someone like you can opt into the new system.

      As an example of what the new system can do for you, let’s say that you got two decisions in 10 years in legacy. In the new process, all things being equal, you could have received a decision in five weeks, disagreed with it, moved to a second lane, received another decision in a few more weeks. So, two decisions in two lanes in new process in less than four months. That’s not entirely accurate because in the new Supplemental Claim Lane in the new process, VA can work with you to develop the case that could lead to a more favorable outcome for you.

      Please watch the video above. 🙂

    2. Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve    

      I MADE TWO COMMENTS WHICH THEY DID NOT ALLOW ME TO POST THE ESSENCE OF WHICH IS THAT THE ONLY WAY TO EXPEDITE YOUR CLAIM IS TO SECURE A HEARING ON THE RECORD WITHIN 30 DAYS AND BE PREPARED WITH F LEE BAILEY AND YOUR FACTS AND RECORDS AND EXPERTS.
      THE VA CLAIMS PROCESS IS A FRAUD

  54. John Cultrera    

    Have evidence of sleep apnea since 1954, but have been denied twice as insufficient, even with a NOD statement from my sleep Doctor.
    The current VA saying is: “deny,deny until they die”. Or so I have heard.

    1. James Bowers MSgt USAF (Ret)    

      Not to be an ass, but how is sleep apnea a service connected disability? Regards,

      1. Jason Davis    

        Hi James, the simple answer is that it’s in the Code of Federal Regulations. Any injury or medical condition incurred or aggravated by active military service can be claimed for compensation.

        38 C.F.R. § 4.97, Code 6847 as Sleep Apnea Syndromes (Obstructive, Central, Mixed). Veterans are assigned 0%, 30%, 50% and 100% ratings for sleep apnea, depending on the severity of their condition. Below are the criteria listed in VA’s rating schedule for sleep apnea:

        100%: “Chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention, the need for a tracheostomy, or cor pulmonale.” Cor pulmonale is the enlargement or failure of the right side of the heart due to lung disease.

        50%: If a veteran “requires use of a breathing assistance device, such as a continuous airway pressure (CPAP) machine.”

        30%: The veteran is experiencing “persistent daytime hypersomnolence.” Hypersomnolence is a condition similar to insomnia, characterized by chronic daytime sleepiness that does not improve even with sufficient sleep.

        0%: If the veteran’s condition is Asymptomatic but has “documented sleep disorder breathing.” An asymptomatic condition is one that is diagnosed, but may not be producing symptoms.

    2. Jason Davis    

      Hi John, having a medical condition is not enough, on its own, to be granted compensation. You must demonstrate that your active military service is what caused or aggravated the diagnosed condition. See comment above for rating criteria in the CFR.

  55. Ted Allen Parks    

    I opted into the RAMP, which was the initial version of AMA, in June 2018. I had three disabilities that had been sitting in the legacy appeal system for four years. Well, the VA moved two of my appeals into the RAMP, but illegally closed the most significant one with no decision and no notice to me. Nine months later, I found out during a chat session with a VA rep that they had done this. The chat representative was very helpful and immediately sent a notice to my regional office explaining their ‘ERROR” and asking to reinstate the closed appeal. Months later, the VA still had done nothing other than send me a letter telling me that they had made a decision and sent me a letter in January 2019. That letter only denied two disabilities and did not even mention the illegally closed appeal. I finally went to my Congressman, who immediately sent an inquiry to the VA on my behalf. Three months later, I have received nothing back. I finally lost my temper and sent a secure message telling the VA how disgusted I was with their performance. Today, I received a response that said, “We have placed your RAMP Supplemental Claim for Obstructive Sleep Apnea back under control and it will be assigned to a Decision Review Operations Center (DROC) for processing. Your claim will be worked in date order relative to other claims of this type.” No apology. No expediting of my claim. It just sat in a corner file cabinet for nearly a year, and the response from the VA was just plain arrogant. I have received amazingly great medical care from the VA over the last 15 years, but the disability claims process they are bragging about today is a total disaster, and they keep lying to the public and to Congress on how good it is.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Ted, sorry to hear. Can you log into your eBenefits and tell me what your historical claim (appeal) data says about the pending sleep apnea? Do you also have a current pending new claim for the same or similar medical condition? Vets often submit new claims for medical conditions that are pending in appeals, and we have to close/merge those. Can’t have two open pending at same time.

  56. Donna Forsse    

    The VA is responsible for the loss of my right leg, above the knee. The veterans advocate advised me to file a claim for malpractice by the VA. Because the VA had no one qualified to fix a botched knee replacement they sent me to their educational partner, the University of Missouri. I was seen by the resident physicians at the VA.
    I have been denied because I was seen by someone other than the VA. The VA referred me and paid the bill but will not take responsibility. I had 4 knee revisions in 6 months time. A revision is more involved than the knee replacement. Before my leg was amputated I had metal from my ankle to my thigh and the leg was very unstable. I have suffered severe pain and because of the opioid crisis I just have to suffer.
    My life has completely turned upside down. I’ve lost everything, including my quality of life. There is no doubt in my mind that if this was in the private sector I could at least get help from an attorney. I have no power to be treated fairly. The DAV sent through a RAMP application and the answer was that I don’t qualify for RAMP.
    I am otherwise very healthy and have none of the diseases associated with amputation, such as vascular disease or diabetes. I have never smoked or drank alcohol. I was a guinea pig for some Drs. To learn how to do their job.

  57. Todd Magee    

    Why would a sane person even think about using RAMP?
    38 USC 5109B, 7112 already states the following:
    This claim must be afforded expeditious treatment. The law requires that all claims that are remanded by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals or by the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims for additional development or other appropriate action must be handled in an expeditious manner. See 38 U.S.C. §§ 5109B, 7112
    (2012).
    What the VBA, or BVA what ever entity has my remanded claim now needs to do, is hold the person, or persons accountable for not following the law.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Todd, RAMP ended in February 2019. It was a temporary program, a sneak peak at the new AMA, and a way for those stuck in the old legacy process to have their appeals moved into the new process. If you watch the video above, you can see exactly why very sane people (favorably) moved their appeals into RAMP when it was active.

      As for remands, those usually mean that BVA couldn’t overturn a lower decision (could not grant), meaning sent back to the RO for more development. Basically back to the end of the line. And it’s a long line. AMA fixes some of the procedural red tape.

  58. Ty Draper    

    I original filed a claim April 2002 and wasn’t seen until May 2003 (yes, 13 months. They lost my file for 6 months). By the time they got back to me. I had already scheduled my first surgery. I used 266 hours of sick leave and 100 hours of vacation time (at that time I was only accruing 8 hours of each a month, so you do the math). After appealing it at the local level it was written up to be sent to Washington D.C. (that was in 2010 and yet had a second surgery in 2011) So far my appeal has taken 9 years. It’s been back in forth between Washington D.C. and the regional office 3 times since Feb. 2016 (wait I’ll have more about that date). My regional representative with the VFW has been worthless. Can’t get ahold of, leave messages, still doesn’t return your call or when he did, he called me by a different name. So I had to ask if the call was for me or by the name he thought he was call for. Here in Feb. I get a letter from Washington D.C. that stated that my appeal had been denied, but that my collar bone had never been rated, so now it was going to be. The code that it listed was for a broken collar bone that hadn’t heal right, so it would be rated as 10%. The funny thing is, mine has never been broken. Mine was dislocated in March 1987. It is the same code, but for a dislocated collar bone it’s 20% for either arm. They say the effective date was dated for Feb. 2016 (that’s the date that the first appeal came back from Washington D.C,) They can use a lot of dates, but Feb. 2016 wouldn’t be one of them. The date of the first claim would be 2002. They saw me the first time in 2003. The appeal was filed in 2010, but it would not be 2016. To call my representative (I mean to get ahold of him), when he finally calls back. He says ‘well this is what you’ve been waiting for’. I’m like ‘no, it’s still wrong’, the dates are wrong, how they are writing the percentage for the code is wrong. He’s like ‘well now you’ll be waiting another 4 years to get this right. I told him, I want it done right, so what’s another 4 years. I’ve waited 9 years now, so what’s another 4. He tells me to fill out some form online and to mail it to him, that he was just to busy to see me, so just mail it and to make sure that it was addressed a certain way otherwise he would not get it. That was done in Feb. of this year, so yet to see or hear anything on it. I just had the third surgery earlier this week after the VA farmed me out to a community doctor. It only took the VA 32 years to do the first MRI. They’ve done a few xrays, but didn’t do a MRI until just 6 months ago. At this point, I would not wish the VA on anyone and that’s sad.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Ty, what you explained is exactly some of the reasons why we’ve said the legacy appeals process is broken. For 17 years, you’ve shuffled in and out of the broken appeals process with little information or choice. You’ve received multiple decisions that don’t clearly explain why VA made the decisions it made, nor what it means to you, and it has left you confused and angry. We don’t want that on our end, and we don’t want that on your end.

      The new AMA remedies all of that. Decisions are averaging weeks instead of years; the decisions are written in regular language, not legalese; and more importantly, in the AMA, VA can actually assist you. The video above touts the virtues of the new process, and explains two new ways for you to opt in.

  59. Del Hamilton    

    I really dont like hearing this from one Vet to another!

  60. Kimberly Bishop    

    I applaud the VA for trying to expedite cases but can’t help feeling that this adds another level of confusion to an already confusing process. Supplemental claim, higher level review or BVA review is too much confusion. Having a linear line of appeal would be so much easier for the VA and easier on Vets to understand.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Kimberly, the options are well explained. If the Vet wants BVA, they appeal to BVA. If the Vet thinks VA is wrong or made an error and would like a more senior rater to review the evidence, then HLR is the lane to go to. If the Vet has more or new evidence to strengthen their case, or would like assistance from VA, the SCL is the lane to take.

      https://benefits.va.gov/benefits/appeals.asp

  61. Chris Taylor    

    Ebenefits is a joke, they make disabled veterans, that don’t remember yesterday, keep changing the password. IT mgr should be fired, use fingerprinting, face recognition, as I write my password down, but can’t use old password. SMH, SMH, UP GRADE YOUR PHONE SYSTEM AND

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Chris, eBenefits is a joint DoD/VA website, and it is the DoD who controls logon and security features. That said, most of its features are porting to VA.gov, which I’m sure you’ll find simpler to use. 🙂

  62. Randell Brown    

    The new process is said to have 3 NEW lanes to choose from…lanes A and B aren’t new. All you’ve done is taken the so called Legacy Appeals Process and added lane C which allows claimants to appeal directly to BVA. This, in my opinion, undermines the reason lanes A and B are in place.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Randall, the BVA lane is the most unchanged lane. For more info on the benefits of HLR and SCL (compared to “legacy”), please watch the video above. 🙂

  63. james Almodovar    

    it took me 12 yrs of reviewing my case, I gave up , their response was missing documents, not enough cause to increase, well I got tired until I placed a Lawyer to look over my case and after spending $6.000.00 they are still withholding evaluation on my case so what else is to do, will the Government will give me a refund or increase my % .

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi James, if your service connected condition has worsened, you can file a new “claim for an increase.” If you aren’t sure how to do this, or what’s needed, we recommend you enlist the services of a certified VSO (they’re trained, AND free).

  64. Ben Geller    

    I went through the RAMP. I did not take that long to get turned down again, even though its documented in my military medical records.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Ben, did you include your military records WITH your claim? While VA does request them from the DoD/Archives, never assume that VA was able to obtain them, or all of them. If you did include them, it also helps to submit a lay statement noting where, such as page X, paragraph Y, etc. Then, you’ll also want to include a current medical diagnosis from your VA or private doctor. If you were injured then but not now, then you may not be eligible to be compensated. Lastly, your doctor needs to provide a nexus confirming that your current medical diagnosis was more likely than not caused or aggravated by your active military service.

  65. Steve    

    I have been waiting 9 months on this so called quicker way and have heard nothing

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Steve, the AMA began in February 2019. Are you referring to RAMP, which was active from late 2017 to February? What does your eBenefits status tracker say?

  66. John G. Mann    

    33 years I have been fighting the system 33 YEARS!! I have had my stuff kicked down the road and in the meantime I’m one step closer to being dead.. After being kicked out of the Army for an accident I had in there they told me the VA would help me that was March 1986.. I have had outside organizations screw everything up and never followed up with the apeals I’m tired and the VA SUCKS! I lost my colon because the VA Hospital in Pittsburgh botched the surgery and they never even had an attending in the operating room.. They were all residents that were everything but colorectal surgeons.. Since that day I have had 14 surgeries and now I live with a softball size hernia and I can no longer wear regular pants.. I have to wear coveralls due to how pronounced my condition is today! **** the VA and don’t try and tell me anything about how they are going to help me.. I don’t have much longer in this world and my wife will not be able to get a thing once I’m dead..

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi John, do you currently have a pending appeal of a compensation claim?

  67. Arnold H Fuller    

    How do you approach Dave with a problem? I used the RAMP option with the help of a person from the DAV. After not hearing any thing after 2 months, I called in and asked for assistance in finding out if there was a problem, and if there was, how to work on it. I got a woman on the phone and asked her for help. She looked up my information, and said that she looked at it, and determined that it did not fit the profile, and that she reassigned it to the regular process, and that my approximate wait would be 458 days. (Yes, that is what she said, and hung up. Also she would not tell me her name or facility that she was located at.) I am not the only one that has had a problem like this. I could not find out if was a decision on my claim, or just her decision to get rid of it. There are a lot of people working for the VA making these kind of decisions, and there is no way to check on them, let alone request another evaluation. Please make sure Dave receives this, and have him call me to answer other questions. I have worked as A Veteran Advocate at the Tucson VA since I moved to Arizona in 1978. I have heard a lot of problem stories over the years, and they are not all from the Tucson VA, it has been the same story from Veterans all over the US, that have moved here. It appears that most of the problems are caused internally by VA personnel. My only request to Dave is to run this properly, or move on. 101st ABN 2 times in Vietnam.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Arnold, in your second sentence, you wrote that you “called in,” but didn’t say who you called. Did you call DAV, or VA?

      We advise Vets to check the status of their claims and appeals on eBenefits or VA.gov. That is where you can get an update on its current status–including whether it is in RAMP, or in the legacy process. If the latter, then this blog tells how you can have it moved into the new AMA.

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