Yes, RAMP is the pilot program of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (VAIMA or “Appeals Reform”), a law signed by the President in August 2017 which revamps the VA disability appeals process. Ideally, the VA disability appeals process will be more efficient and give veterans more options for how their appeals are handled.
How Is RAMP Part of VAIMA?
Appeals Reform is set to be fully implemented in February 2019. The Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) is VA’s pilot program, allowing veterans to take advantage of some of the new features offered under Appeals Reform and giving the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) a chance to test and, if necessary, tweak the new system based on feedback and outcomes seen with RAMP.
What Does Appeals Reform Change About the VA Disability Appeals Process?
Unfortunately, the current VA disability appeals process has amassed a large backlog of appeals. With only one queue to process appeals, delays are common and all levels of the system are fraught with backlog, forcing veterans to wait months or years to hear an answer on their appeal.
To address the inefficiencies of the Legacy system, Appeals Reform establishes three separate lanes for appeals. Veterans and their legal representatives will be able to choose which lane best suits the needs of their individual case. The three lanes are as follows:
- The Supplemental Claim Lane: Veterans who file their appeals via this lane have the option of submitting additional evidence and supporting documentation to bolster their claim, which gets reviewed by a rating specialist.
- The Higher-Level Review Lane: Appeals in this lane are reviewed by a more senior employee at the VA. Veterans choosing this lane, however, do not have the option of submitting additional information.
- The Board of Veterans’ Appeals Lane: This lane, which has three separate dockets depending on the type of review desired, leads directly to a review by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).
Does RAMP Offer Veterans the Same Benefits That VAIMA Will Provide?
RAMP, as of June 2018, offers many, but not all, of the benefits of Appeals Reform. At present, the most significant difference between RAMP and Appeals Reform is that currently, only two lanes are available in RAMP: the Supplemental Claim Lane and the Higher-Level Review Lane.
The VA has stated it expects the Board of Veterans’ Appeals Lane to open to RAMP participants who have received a denial in RAMP as early as October 2018.
Benefits of RAMP
The benefits of RAMP involve choice and efficiency. For now, you can choose between two lanes as opposed to the single queue available with the legacy system. If you have additional documentation you think might help your case, you can elect to submit it and have your claim reviewed again. Or, you can skip the evidence submission and review and request that your appeal be reviewed by a higher-level VA employee.
Who Is Eligible to Join RAMP?
Initially, VA intended to keep RAMP small, limiting it to a select few veterans invited to participate in the program each month based on the nature of their appeal and how long it had been waiting in the queue.
Unfortunately, the first few rounds of invitations into the program did not yield many participants. Veterans, especially those who had already been waiting a long time, were hesitant to abandon the flawed-yet-established Legacy program for the new pilot program.
Because of this lack of interest in RAMP, VA worried it would not have enough participants to gather the data it needed to adequately assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the program. In response, in April 2018, VA officially opened RAMP to all veterans with pending VA disability appeals not currently pending at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD at 800-544-9144 for a Free Case Evaluation by a Member of Our Legal Team
At Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, our veterans law team wants to help you put together the strongest appeal for VA disability. To learn more about how our veterans lawyers can help you, call our office today for a free consultation: 800-544-9144.« Return to the Veterans' Resource Center
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