On January 18, 2019, the VA published in the Federal Register its Final Rule regarding implementation of the new VA Appeals system, which will replace the current Legacy appeals system as of February 19, 2019. All appeals filed on or after this date will be reviewed under the new system known as “RAMP.”
The Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) was first launched on November 4, 2017. Originally, it was only open to veterans who received invitations, but has since opened to any veterans wishing to apply. Come the 19th, however, RAMP will become the only VA Appeals option.
RAMP was designed to streamline the VA appeals process. Instead of just a single option to appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), RAMP offers 3 lanes veterans can choose from:
1. Local Higher Level Review. This lane is for cases that don’t have any new evidence and are fairly straightforward. If the VA made an error and the evidence in the claim clearly proves their error, then this is the lane for you. The majority of appeals that don’t have new evidence will be fine in this lane.
2. New Evidence (Supplemental). This lane is for claims that have new evidence that wasn’t submitted with the original claim. If the VA made a decision about your case, but didn’t have all the evidence and you’d like to submit additional evidence, then this is the lane for you. Only submit to this lane if you have new evidence regarding your conditions that the VA has not yet seen.
3. The Board. This lane sends a case directly to the BVA.
Veterans who had an appeal pending under the old Legacy claim system or those who received either a Statement of the Case (SOC) or a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) will be given the opportunity to choose a lane within the new appeals system or remain in the line for the BVA.
Under the Legacy appeals system, BVA claims took an average of 3-5 years to complete. When RAMP first launched in 2017, the VA stated that its goals were to complete supplemental claims or higher level reviews within an average of 125 days and to complete Board appeals within an average of 365 days.
The VA conducted a review at the one-year mark and reported that over 58,000 veterans chose to use RAMP’s first 2 lanes in that first year. As of November 6th, 2018, over 26,000 decisions had been issued with retroactive rewards totaling over $112 million. The average processing time was 115 days. While these are the official numbers released by the VA, we know that many veterans have had their RAMP claims pending for much longer. The VA is clearly still working out the kinks of the new system, however, it has been very successful for a good many veterans.
Once a decision is made on their RAMP claim, veterans have further options for appeal if they are still not happy with the decision. If there is additional new evidence that the VA has not seen, the veteran can appeal to the Supplemental Lane, even if they’ve been through that lane before. If there is no new evidence, then the veteran can appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). As long as all additional appeals are submitted within the proper timeframes, the effective date of the claim will not be effected.
We will be updating our site with full info on the new RAMP system when everything goes into effect on the 19th.
Until then, here is the VA’s official information on RAMP.