The following article applies to the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (“RAMP”), a pilot appeals program for the Appeals Modernization Act (“AMA”). RAMP was in operation from November 2017 to February 2019 when AMA was fully implemented. Some of the information provided in that article may not apply to the new appeals system, AMA.
Since November of 2017, the VA has been rolling out a new program intended to speed up the settlement of VA disability cases and reduce the backlog. It is called the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program, or RAMP. Now the Appeals Modernization Act or AMA is in effect for notice of decisions dated on after February 19, 2019.
Participation in AMA i s voluntary and is being first offered to vets with some of the oldest pending appeals in the VA’s inventory. Over a period of time the VA will be sending out notices to veterans eligible to participate in AMA. If you have received a AMA notice, here’s what you need to know.
If you don’t want to participate in RAMP, you can do nothing and the VA will continue to process your appeal in the legacy process. The rules for the AMA have now been published. You now have two new choices for appeal however the appeal to the BVA remains however with new options.
The AMA allows Veterans to choose one of the two, new processing “lanes” – Higher-Level Review or Supplemental Claim Lane. Select the Higher Level Review option if you have no additional evidence to submit in support of your claim but you believe that there was an error in the initial decision. The Higher-Level Reviewer will only consider evidence that was in VA’s possession at the time you file the request for review form. You or your representative will not be able to add new evidence if you are in the Higher Level Review lane. If you have additional evidence that is new and relevant to support your benefit claim, then you will want to select the Supplemental Claim Lane.
There are potential advantages and disadvantages in the AMA claims process.
The advantages of AMA include potentially faster decisions; the option to ask for a quick, fresh look at the decision the VA made in evaluating your case; and multiple review options. However, you need to fully consider that participating in AM has some disadvantages, as well, including never being able to go back to the legacy appeals process. The third lane which the only lane previously available is the ability to take your claim directly to the Board of Veterans Appeals. There are now three different choices for appeal choices in the BVA process.
If you have received a AMA notification and are unsure of what is your next best move, then call us at Cuddigan Law for a free evaluation of your case. And if you have applied for VA disability and were denied benefits, don’t give up. We can also review your case to see if you have grounds to appeal the denial.