Once I Opt In to RAMP Can I Ever Return to the Legacy Appeals Process?
Once you opt in to RAMP, you cannot return to the Legacy appeals process.
Since the decision to opt in to RAMP is permanent, it could be a good idea to consult with a veterans law attorney before making any decisions about the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP). RAMP offers several benefits, but it might not be the best choice for every applicant.
Note: On February 19, 2019 the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act (AMA) was officially implemented, thus ending the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program. The most up-to-date information on the AMA can be found on our page: Veterans’ Appeals Reform.
Why Am I Unable to Return to the Legacy System?
The purpose of RAMP is to test the new appeals reform system before the implementation of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act (VAIMA) goes into effect as early as February 2019. When you switch from the Legacy system to RAMP, VA formally withdraws your appeal from the old system.
Fortunately, the early reports on how RAMP is working have been somewhat positive. Veterans appealing through RAMP are receiving decisions faster than their counterparts still in the Legacy system; in fact, according to statistics from May 2018, the average number of days it takes to complete a RAMP decision is 59 days.
What Is RAMP and How Does It Differ from the Legacy System?
VA created RAMP as a pilot program for the permanent revamp of its appeals process outlined in VAIMA. In August 2017, in response to ongoing complaints from veterans about backlogs, inefficiencies, and lengthy wait times, Congress passed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017.
The Differences Between RAMP and the Legacy System
Appeals Reform changes how VA handles appeals in several significant ways. Most notably, it creates three different options, known as “lanes” that veterans can select for the review of their appeal depending on what best suits their case. In the Legacy system, all appeals follow the same path, which has created a backlog of appeals at both the Regional Office and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals levels.
In addition to hopefully cutting down the backlog of the Legacy system, the three appeal lanes of the new system also give veterans a choice over how VA handles their appeals. Each lane has a different type of reviewer. Your legal representative can help you decide which lane gives you the best chance of a positive outcome.
RAMP exists for VA to test the new appeals system before it goes into effect as early as February 2019. VA created RAMP as a way to roll out parts of Appeals Reform to a smaller number of veterans, test the new processes, and determine where changes need to be made. RAMP is scheduled to run until Appeals Reform is fully implemented.
What If the VA Denies My Appeal in RAMP? Do I Have to Wait Until February 2019 to Appeal Again?
In March 2018, amidst some confusion from veterans, VA offered some clarification regarding what happens when you receive a denial within RAMP.
You do not have to wait until Appeals Reform is fully implemented to take action on your denial. Instead, you can submit another appeal right away, and you can even appeal to a different lane in the RAMP system.
For example, if you selected the Supplemental Claim Lane for your appeal review, and received a denial, you can file an appeal of that denial via the Higher-Level Review Lane for review by a more senior-level reviewer. VA also announced that the Notice of Disagreement Lane (Board Lane) will open to RAMP participants who received a RAMP denial in October 2018.
For a Free Disability Case Evaluation, Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD at 800-544-9144
At Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, our attorneys focus on veterans disability law, and we have been following every RAMP development closely. For a free case evaluation with a member of our team, call our office today at 800-544-9144.
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