President Donald Trump signed the Appeals Modernization Act of 2017 into law, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched a new initiative called the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP).
The RAMP system is meant to streamline the VA’s current appeals process to address the backlog of more than 450,000 claims. Due to past criticism and the long wait times for claims appeals to be processed—often between three and seven years—the RAMP initiative gives veterans three options for obtaining resolution to their appeals as quickly as possible. These options, also known as lanes, are available when a veteran files a Notice of Disagreement with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).
The goal is to have all appeals processed under this new system by February 2019.
RAMP is a voluntary option for veterans to opt-in to a more efficient, faster, and effective process. If you’re a veteran appealing a benefits claim, it’s important to understand the initiative and talk to a skilled VA disability attorney to determine if RAMP is right for you.
The VA created three lanes for veterans to choose from if they have an open appeals claim. Here's a brief overview of what the new process provides:
- A more understandable review system
- Multiple review options
- Improvements in how the VA notifies a veteran about its decision
- Earlier resolution of disagreements
- Defined start and end points for each lane
The Three Lanes
RAMP is an invitation-only process. Before deciding whether or not to opt-in to the program, review what the three lanes provide:
- Higher-Level Review. If you choose this option, your claim will be reviewed by a new claims adjudicator. This can be especially helpful if you think the VA made an error in its decision about your disability claim. Under this option, the adjudicator will only review existing evidence the VA has about your claim. So, you're unable to submit new doctor reports, test results, or additional evidence that may be relevant to your disability or illness.
- Supplemental Claim. Under this option, your review will be conducted by the same claims adjudicator who gave you a low rating or denied your claim entirely. You're allowed to submit new and relevant evidence, and the VA will try to process your appeal within 125 days. For this option to be successful, you need to be able to submit your new information quickly.
- Appeals to the Board. If your claim is denied by the VA at the higher-level review, you can still appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). Your claim is placed at the front of the line for quick handling.
Is RAMP Right for You?
It’s important to assess your unique appeals claim before deciding to opt-in to RAMP. This initiative has both advantages and disadvantages, and the options available under RAMP may not help your claim.
What’s important to know is the VA tries to ensure that veterans receive the earliest possible effective date for their claims, and opting-in to RAMP won’t change that date. The VA tries to preserve this date to protect a veteran’s retroactive pay if the appeal is approved.
If You Need Help With Your VA Disability Appeal
The attorneys at Cuddigan Law have filed thousands of appeals for veterans trying to get their benefits claims approved. Our firm fights hard for those veterans injured and disabled during their military service.
If you need help with a claims application or your appeal, Cuddigan Law can help. We’ll step you through the process and work with you to help ensure your best possible chance for getting an approved claim, whether you’ve submitted it for the first time or are waiting on an appeal.