What Does the VA Mean By “New and Relevant” Evidence for a RAMP Claim?

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.

The Rapid Appeals Modernization Program, or RAMP, is a fairly new VA program. The goal of this program—the VA says---is to speed up decisions surrounding disability claim disputes. Under RAMP disabled veterans must choose one of the two processing “lanes”. The Higher-Level Review Lane is for vets who have no additional evidence to submit in support of their claim, but believe that there was an error in the initial decision. The Supplemental Claim Lane is for when there is an appeal to a disability claim and the disabled veteran has evidence that is “new and relevant”.

But what does the VA consider to be “new and relevant”?

The VA says that “new” evidence is simply that—new evidence submitted to the VA for the first time. It cannot be information that is already in VA records. It cannot be evidence a veteran has previously provided to the VA or evidence the VA has legally acquired on behalf of the veteran.

“Relevant” evidence is a fact or facts that VA did not have enough evidence to verify at the time of their prior decision. A fact that is necessary to substantiate the claim.

The VA says that submitted evidence which was previously reviewed in a claim denial is cumulative or redundant. It is not considered new and relevant.  Evidence previously reviewed in the decision that denied your claim can be found in your notification letter or rating decision. This may help you determine if the evidence you’re considering for submission is cumulative or redundant.

Here’s an example that may help clarify what is considered new and relevant evidence. Let’s say a veteran who is pursuing an Agent Orange claim has private doctor’s medical report that lists Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma as one of his diagnoses. If this veteran has never submitted this report to the VA, and his VA Claims File has no record of this disease, then this private medical report would be both new and relevant evidence.

Convincing the VA that you have new and relevant evidence can pose many challenges, but it can be the key to winning the VA disability benefits you were previously denied and RAMP may mean a quicker decision. If you applied for VA disability benefits and were denied, don’t give up. Call us at Cuddigan Law for a free review your case to see if you have grounds to appeal the denial.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska