The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced on November 1st that it will launch the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program, or “RAMP”. This program is intended to mirror the recent Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on Aug. 23. which applies to future appeals. RAMP creates changes to the process of pending VA appeals and claims that become ripe for an appeal before implementation of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which is expected to take over a year to implement.
RAMP will give veterans more options at the time of appeal.
The VA purports that the new law streamlines the process and includes safeguards ensuring claimants receive the earliest effective date possible for their claims. VA also affirms that veterans can expect to receive a review of the VA’s initial decision on their claim faster with RAMP than in the legacy appeals process. The initiative allows participants to have their decisions reviewed in the Higher-Level or Supplemental Claim review lanes outlined in the law. The reviewer can overturn previous decisions based on a difference of opinion, or return it for correction. Participants who select the Supplemental Claim Lane may submit new evidence and may receive the VA’s assistance in developing evidence in support of their claim.
Veterans who disagree with a Rating Decision they receive in RAMP can skip the Supplemental Claim Lane and appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in the new process and have their appeal decided by the Board.
Veterans need to beware that some of these options may add time to the case and may force veterans to waive certain rights including their right to submit additional evidence as a trade off to make the appeal process faster.
Participation in RAMP is voluntary. However, veterans who participate in RAMP will not be able to return to the legacy appeals process.
The VA will begin sending eligible veterans an invitation to participate in early November and continue the program until February 2019.
We encourage veterans who receive the RAMP letter to contact their attorney or representative as soon as they receive the letter to discuss the various options before making a decision on how to proceed.
If you receive a RAMP letter and need assistance with your VA appeal, we are here to help. Call Bosley & Bratch at (800) 953-6224 or complete our free veterans benefits case evaluation form.