What Are the Advantages of RAMP for Veterans?
There are two main advantages of RAMP for veterans:
- The potential for a quicker decision on their disability appeal
- More options for how their appeal is reviewed
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.
The Advantages of RAMP
More Lanes=Quicker Decisions
In the current Legacy system, all appeals funnel into one queue, regardless of whether you are submitting additional evidence or want to request a Board hearing.
The Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) allows you to choose between two — and, starting as early as October 2018, three — lanes to file your appeal.
Choice Over How the VA Reviews Your Appeal
You also have more choice over how your appeal is reviewed. In the current “Legacy Appeals” process, VA evaluates all appeals the same way. By opting in to RAMP, you can consult with your attorney to determine which appeal lane best suits your case’s unique needs.
Which RAMP Lanes Are Open?
As of April 2018, RAMP has two open appeal lanes:
- The Supplemental Claim Lane: Here, you have the option of submitting additional evidence or supporting documentation for your claim, which a rating specialist will then review.
- The Higher-Level Review Lane: Submitting your appeal here has your claim reviewed by a more senior VA employee. If you choose this lane, you cannot submit additional evidence with your appeal.
The third RAMP lane, the Notice of Disagreement Lane, or Board Lane, is set to open to RAMP participants who have received a denial in October 2018. By choosing this lane, veterans who have received a denial in RAMP can appeal the claim directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Upon selecting the Notice of Disagreement Lane for their appeal review, veterans must also indicate to which docket they would like their appeal added. There are three dockets in the Board Lane.
Is RAMP Faster than the Current System?
VA has not, as of June 2018, guaranteed that RAMP appeals will be decided any faster than appeals submitted via the Legacy system.
However, as of May 2018, statistics from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) show that the average number of days it takes to complete a RAMP decision is 59 days.
The Time You Wait for Your Decision Could Depend on Your Lane Choice
Certain lanes may process appeals more quickly than others. For example, if you choose the Board lane, you will need to wait until it opens in October 2018, or possibly later. Then, once in this lane, your choice of docket may also affect how long you have to wait. VA hopes that it will process Direct Docket appeals within 365 days. The Evidence Only and Hearing Dockets could take longer.
Are There Any Disadvantages of RAMP?
There are two potential disadvantages of RAMP:
- RAMP is a pilot program for the new Appeals Reform The purpose of RAMP is to identify any issues that may arise in the new process and address them prior to Appeals Reform being fully implemented in February 2019 (at the earliest).
- You cannot opt out once you join. If you move your appeal over to RAMP, you cannot move it back to the Legacy system. You can change your appeal lane within RAMP, but you must wait until you have received a decision (e.g., You chose the Higher-Level Review Lane but realized you want to submit more information. You can switch to the Supplemental Claim Lane, but only after receiving an unfavorable decision in the Higher-Level Review Lane that you wish to appeal.
How Can I Opt In to RAMP?
Opting-in is straightforward. You must first ensure you are eligible. If you have filed a VA Form 9 or a Notice of Disagreement, if the Board remanded your decision, or if your appeal has been certified but not activated for a decision by the Board, you can opt in to RAMP.
If you received an invitation letter, you just need to send back the form you received with the invitation to VA. If you did not receive a letter, you can find the form here.
You need to fill out the form, choose your lane, and then send it back to the VA Evidence Intake Center.
For a Free Case Evaluation, Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD at 800-544-9144
At Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, our veterans lawyers have been following RAMP from the beginning. For a free case evaluation with a member of our veterans law team, call our office at 800-544-9144.
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