If you have not received a RAMP letter, you may still receive one from VA. However, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) did away with the requirement of receiving a RAMP invitation letter in order to opt-in as of April 2018. If you are a veteran with a pending VA disability appeal, you can opt in to the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP), regardless of whether you received a RAMP invitation letter.
How Long Will VA Continue to Send Out Letters?
According to VA, it will continue to send letters out through December 2018. In an effort to persuade more veterans to join, it will “disseminate monthly batches of letters of increased size and scope.” It plans to send these letters to more than 400,000 veterans with pending appeals.
In addition to sending invitations to the “oldest appellants in each stage,” VA is also sending invitations to those with newer appeals.
What Is a RAMP Invitation Letter?
VA sent invitation letters to tens of thousands of veterans during the first few months of 2018 to invite them to participate in the program. Because RAMP is the pilot program for a permanent overhaul of the VA disability appeals process set to take effect in February 2019, VA decided to limit the number of veterans who could join the program so as not to be overwhelmed with applicants.
The purpose of RAMP is to try out the new processes that will go into effect next year, work out the kinks, and tweak things as necessary. VA determined that this would be easier to do with a limited number of appeals.
Upon announcing RAMP, VA stated that the program would invite a select number of invited veterans each month between the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2019, when the permanent changes take effect. VA reported that those selected would receive a letter inviting them to opt in and providing them with instructions for how to do so.
How Do I Know if I Am Eligible to Join RAMP?
You must have a pending VA disability appeal to be eligible to join RAMP. Specifically, your appeal must be in one of the following stages of the appeals process:
- You filed a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) to dispute an initial denial;
- You filed a Form 9 to request a Board appeal;
- Certified but not yet activated for a Board decision;
- Remanded by the Board and referred to the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).
Note: If you are filing a claim for the first time or have already filed your claim and are waiting for a decision on your initial application, you are not eligible to participate in RAMP. If you receive an unfavorable decision on your VA claim that you wish to appeal, you may be eligible to opt in to RAMP.
How Do I Opt-In to RAMP if I Am Eligible to Join?
VA offers an opt-in form and cover sheet on its website. You can fill it out, submit it to VA, and VA will move your appeal from the Legacy queue to the RAMP lane that you select.
What Else Do I Need to Know About RAMP Before I Opt-In?
RAMP Gives You Options for Your Appeal
Your VA disability attorney or representative can help you decide which RAMP lane you should choose. Your options are as follows:
Supplemental Claims Lane: In this lane, you have the option of submitting additional evidence and information in support of your claim.
Higher-Level Review Lane: Here, your claim goes to a senior VA employee for review. This lane does not allow you to submit any additional information.
Board Review Lane: This lane, not currently open but scheduled to become available to RAMP participants in October 2018, sends your appeal straight to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals for review.
The Decision is Permanent
One other important thing to know about RAMP: Once you opt in, your participation is permanent; you cannot return to the Legacy queue. Make sure to discuss the pros and cons of switching with your attorney or representative before making a decision.
Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD at 800-544-9144 for a Free Disability Claim Evaluation« Return to the Veterans' Resource Center
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