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Jord1985

Opt into RAMP, but local office made a decision now I'm stuck

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Hey Everyone,

Long time lurker here. I used to live in the ATL area and have had pretty bad experiences with the raters there. I put in for unemployability due to severe back pain which they denied without setting me up with a C&P exam and told me that "I couldn't prove I couldn't work". I moved to a different state and put in a NOD for unemployability to the DRO as well as a couple other issues. Over two years later this past May the DRO granted me unemployability back dating from 2015 to 2017 and then granted me a rating for the other conditions that put me at 100% the middle of 2017 (I was 70% during that time and 90% until this past May).

However, before the DRO made a decision the DAV advised me to opt into the RAMP program. I had received a letter from the VA back in March giving me the opportunity opt into the RAMP. The DAV at that time told me not to opt in but on May 15th they told me I should due to how long my appeal has been pending. So I told them to opt me in.

What is interesting is on May 30th the DRO at the local regional office made a decision on my appeal which is explained above. I know this by receiving a SOC for one issue, and the DAV giving me details on the others listed above. Back in the middle of June I called the DAV since I have yet to receive the decision letter (they initially told me it could take up to two weeks). The DAV told me to be patient and that it was waiting to be promulgated. I even noticed a new claim pop up in ebenefits and vets.gov though the DAV said it was for the RAMP program and that it would go away.

Fast forward to last week and I called the DAV who advised me that the reason it hasn't been picked up to be promulgated is the pending RAMP status and that I should go into the regional office and request that I be opt out of the RAMP since a decision has already been made. So I did. And they said you can't opt out. So I walked over to the DAV office who admitted that I was the first they have come across where I needed to be opt out of the program since a decision was already made, and that they talked to their boss and it was verified I can't simply opt out. What they are able to see is that my claim is at Winston-Salem and that I needed to wait for them to close out the RAMP claim before I can receive the decision letter.

They did mention that this individual at Winston-Salem has to look at my file ethically and can't just close it out. They can either concur with the local office, take some benefits away or grant me additional benefits.

Is any of what I've been told true? Can I not truly opt out? Can this other DRO overrule my local DRO?  I don't see how it is fair to me that I've already been rated, a decision has already been made and yet I have to wait for another decision review officer to look at my file who could take everything away. 

Thank you!

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unfortunately 

No. Once you opt in to the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP), you cannot opt out and return to the Legacy Appeals system (i.e., the current VA appeals system).

For this reason, it is imperative that you learn as much as possible about the program as well as its advantages and disadvantages before you make any decisions. 

 

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Its unproductive for us to "speculate" on what happened prior to a decision, since we simply dont know.  

Did the DAV send you a letter?  

THIS is exactly why some VSO's dont give Veterans "advance notice" of their forthing coming decision:  It can be changed and is not final.  And this can make Vets go crazy, and, it sounds like this is driving you nuts.  

Choice 1:  Be patient and wait for the decision.  Ramp could result in an "even better" decision, such as a better effective date or SMC S.  

Choice 2:  Email or call the white house hotline and explain your dilema.  

You probably are not "stuck".  If you are, indeed, entitled to benefits because you have a current diagnosis, an in service event, and a nexus, then you should get them regardless if the decision maker is called a "DRO" (legacy appeasl) or a "higher level review" in ramp.  

If you are lacking a nexus, diagnosis, in service event, and somebody "caught that" after DAV was notified of the decision, its actually good for you in the long run.  Why?  Because you really dont want to have to pay back VA benefits that were erroneously awarded..that would be worse than a denial.  In a denial, at least you can submit new evidence and file a nod, and you have a chance to "cure" the reasons for a denial.  

While I know patience is difficult, you dont have a lot of choice, along with myself or millions of other VEts who want their benefits "now".  We all had to wait..and some of us and extremely long time.  I have been waiting since 2002....almost 16 years.  Yes, the delays are crazy, but that is the VA's favorite thing to do..they delay everthing as long as possible "EXCEPT" The VA's own emplyee checks which are never delayed.  

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Thanks. Yes I received a letter from the DAV explaining what I was approved for and the effective dates. I also received a SOC from the regional office on one item. I guess what is extremely annoying is the fact that a DRO granted me benefits, they rated me as reflected on ebenefits and confirmed by DAV, I received a statement of case for one of my items they couldn't grant full benefits on, but now I still have to sit in the RAMP que for another DRO to look at it. It just doesn't seem right to me so I wanted to see what you all thought and if any options exist. Thank you again for your time. 

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Well, I guess we can put this at the top of VA's extremely long excuse list for delaying benefits. 

I thought I had heard them all, but somebody came up with a new excuse to delay Veterans benefits.  

You know, the delays profit VA in at least 2 ways:

1.  The Veteran is paid no interest, ever.   So VA can turn right around and lend that money to Veterans via VA "direct" loans and charge other Veterans interest on that money that VA does not pay out.  I wish I could delay my bills as long as VA does.  

2.  Generally (unless the spouse signs a "substitution of claimant"), the claim dies with the Veteran, so VA pays out "0".  

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