Veterans Affairs Launches Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP)
The VA is rolling out another program to attempt to reduce the backlog of VA Disability claims.
The Rapid Appeals Modernization Program may not be for some veterans.
If your VA Disability was denied you may be invited into RAMP. At this point, only veterans who are invited may join RAMP. Once you opt-in to RAMP, you may not leave your RAMP track and go back into the traditional appeals process.
One track of RAMP prevents veterans from submitting new evidence. For example, suppose your VA Disability PTSD rating was low or you were denied, you can not submit further evidence in your RAMP track. Therefore, you cannot submit doctor or psychologists statements if you join.
Another example of this bad evidence rule is for veterans trying to obtain major depressive disorder VA Disability Benefits. If you have another episode during the appeal, that evidence can't be used.
If you opt-in to RAMP, your effective date will be preserved - your VA Disability back pay should not be affected.
The last major VA Disability reform slowed down the appeal process.
A couple years ago the VA implemented a program to move veterans' disability applications faster. While veterans did received a VA Rating Decision letter quicker, the backlog at the Board of Veterans Appeals grew. Many veterans felt that the VA was essentially just denying faster. Since the time to receive a VA Disability rating appeal decision grew, many veterans waited the same amount of time or longer before than before the reforms took place.
Many law firms are recommending their clients do not currently join RAMP.
Many VA Benefits appeals lawyers do not yet fully know exactly how RAMP is going to affect claims. Neil Woods, a Veterans Disability Benefits lawyer at Woods & Woods doesn't like the fact that some of RAMPs new volunteers won't go before a Veterans Law Judge (VLJ). Woods finds that "VLJ's are much more impartial than bureaucrats at the VA. They seem to consider the evidence more thoroughly and they generally follow the law."
Related News: 2018 VA Disability Rates Increase
The VA has been busy passing reforms and new rules. One is that veterans should see a 2018 VA Disability Compensation Benefits increase. The 2018 increase is for 2% and became effective on December 1, 2017. Veterans should expect the increase to be on their 2018 payments from the VA.