Matthew Hill: Hello, this is Matthew Hill here with Carol Ponton on the Hill & Ponton VA video blog, and today we’ve got some exciting news to discuss. The VA has passed or Congress and the President just signed a new law completely redoing the VA appeal system. This law, I guess, was signed late summer 2017, but won’t go into effect completely until early to mid-2019. But what it does is basically deconstructs the whole appeal system as we know it.
Matthew Hill: The VA … What they’re trying to do is get veterans away from appealing. So right now what happens is if you have a decision you disagree with, you file a Notice Of Disagreement, you wait two, three years, and you get a statement of the case by the regional office as well. And then you appeal that, and your case goes to the Board of Veterans Appeals. If you … That’s another four or five years sometimes.
Carol Ponton: Yes.
Matthew Hill: And then from there you can win, and then it goes all the way back down, or you lose and you can go up to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Now, this new law what they’ve done is once someone, a veteran, files a claim and they’re denied, they have three options. The first is a Notice Of Disagreement, and the difference is that Notice Of Disagreement sends the case directly to the Board of Veterans Appeals. The next is a request for review from a higher authority in the VA, I’m sorry in the regional office of the VA, which if you think about it is something like a decision review officer. And then the last one is to file what they call a supplemental claim or a new claim.
Matthew Hill: The thing about filing the new claim, supplemental claim is your effective date is still that original claim you filed, and so they’re trying to diversify the options in hopes that people stop filing appeals all the way up to the BVA. Whether that’s good or not, we don’t know. It’s not come into play yet. There is a pilot program called RAMP that is going to be implemented in the next couple months as an attempt by the VA to figure out what they’re doing and how it’s going to work.
Carol Ponton: Yes.
Matthew Hill: That program is going to be an opt-in program. The VA’s going to be looking for several thousand veterans a month to get into the program, and we will discuss that more on this space as well. But it’s important to know right now that there’s a massive change coming. There’s no change in how they adjudicate your claim, how they decide your claim. Service connection laws are the same. The increased rating law is the same. But it’s going to be how they process it, and there’s going to be some confusing aspects of it. I think they were trying to clarify stuff, but in a way a lot of it is confusing.
Matthew Hill: But we’re going to try to go through each piece of that one by one so people understand it, so thank you for tuning in, and there’s going to be plenty more of this on this space.