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No. You should not wait to file an appeal until VA appeals reform takes effect.

Why You Should File an Appeal As Soon As Possible

There are a few reasons you should file your appeal as soon as possible and not wait until VA appeals reform takes effect.

Appeals Reform Will Not Be Fully Implemented Until February 2019

The new appeals system will take effect — at the earliest — on February 14, 2019. However, this date is not set in stone. If it takes longer to implement the system, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) could push the implementation date out for as long as necessary. This could leave you waiting for an indefinite period of time to file your appeal and a deadline could lapse.

You Might Miss Your Deadline

If your claim for VA benefits is denied, you have one year to file an appeal. If you wait until appeals reform is set to be fully implemented to file your appeal, you could miss your deadline and jeopardize your right to benefits.

If you miss your appeal deadline, you will need to file to have VA reopen your claim for benefits, which is not the same thing as just filing your claim again. You could wait months or even years longer than necessary.

You Can Join RAMP in the Meantime

If you are interested in having your appeal processed in the new Appeals Reform system, you can opt in to the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) — the pilot program for appeals reform. Participating in the pilot program currently allows you to choose from two options (a third option is set to become available to RAMP participants only in October 2018) under which you can file your appeal so long as your appeal is not currently before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

The Process for Filing an Appeal

The process you can expect depends on whether you file your appeal in the legacy system or RAMP.

Filing in the Legacy System

You have one year to file a NOD from the date of VA’s initial decision. After you file your NOD, VA will typically issue a Statement of the Case (SOC) in which it further explains the denial.

Once you receive your SOC, you must file a VA Form 9 within 60 days in order for your appeal to be reviewed by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals will then grant, deny, or remand your case.

If the BVA denies your claim, you can appeal your case to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).

Filing in RAMP

In RAMP, you can currently choose from two lanes to file your appeal. The Supplemental Claim lane allows you to submit additional evidence with your appeal. If you do not have any additional evidence to submit with your appeal and would like a higher-level VA employee to review your case, you may choose the Higher-Level Review lane.

If you want to file your appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), you can file your appeal in the Board of Veterans’ Appeals Lane. This third appeal lane is set to be available in October 2018 to RAMP participants only.

This means that only veterans who have received a denial in one of the other two lanes, Supplemental Claim or Higher-Level Review, can file an appeal via the Board lane. Veterans who have appeals pending in the Legacy system cannot opt-in to RAMP and immediately select the Board lane.

Call 800-544-9144 for a Free VA Disability Case Evaluation

The veterans advocates at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD are here to help you with your disability benefits appeal. For a free case evaluation with a team member, call 800-544-9144.

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