RAMP: SHOULD YOU PARTICIPATE IN VA'S NEW RAPID APPEALS MODERNIZATION PROGRAM?
On November 2, 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rolled out RAMP, the first opportunity for veterans to enter the new appeals process outlined in the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017.
The Act, signed into law on August 23, 2017, will not take full effect until February 2019. But the new program - RAMP, which stands for Rapid Appeals Modernization Program - will allow veterans currently appealing their claims to participate in some, but (importantly) not all parts of the new appeals system.
The new system is intended to streamline the VA's current appeals process, which has received criticism for years over wait times and the way claims, and appeals are processed. The new process will allow veterans to choose from three different review lanes when they file a Notice of Disagreement with the Board of Veterans' Appeals. By February 2019, all appeals should be processed under the new system. For now, though, veterans who want to appeal a VA decision can choose to remain in the legacy appeals process or participate in RAMP. The VA has begun to progressively reach out to more Veterans each month to offer them an opportunity to opt in to the RAMP program so even if you have not seen a letter regarding RAMP yet, you may still receive one and be faced with a decision about what path to take with your claim.
According to VA, veterans can expect to receive a review of VA's initial decision on their claim faster in RAMP than in the legacy appeals process. However, veterans should fully consider that participating in RAMP means:
· not being able to appeal to the Board until at least February 2019.
· not being able to take their claim directly to the Board of Veterans Appeals.
· never going back to the legacy appeals process.
Under the current version of the RAMP process, our firm is advising all our Veterans to not opt in to the current version of the RAMP process. Our firm is diligently following the development of this new program and will keep our Veterans informed of any and all information they need to have their appeals processed in the most effective and efficient manner possible.
If you have questions about RAMP, the new VA appeals process, or the current VA appeals process, please contact the experienced Veterans' disability attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. today for a free case evaluation. Gardberg & Kemmerly serves Veterans across the United States from their home office in Mobile, Alabama.