DAV Magazine — March/April 2018
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RAMPing up the appeals process
James T. Marszalek


Last August, DAV heralded the signing of appeals modernization legislation into law. I was proud to represent DAV on a stakeholder work group that developed the framework for this longawaited reform addressing unacceptable delays veterans face within the current VA disability appeals system, which can take three to five years—sometimes longer—to complete.

Once fully implemented, the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 will overhaul the current system by creating three paths for veterans to appeal an unfavorable decision: requesting a higher-level VA adjudicator to quickly review their case, filing a supplemental claim with new evidence or taking their appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Each of these options will preserve the effective date of the claim, and after each new decision is provided, the veteran can continue to appeal using a different option.

While the legislation will not be fully effective until 2019, last November the VA initiated the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) to provide some of the benefits of the new law’s streamlined process to veterans who already have appeals pending. RAMP participants can have their decisions reconsidered using one of two new options: seeking higher-level review or filing a supplemental claim. Currently, the VA is phasing in RAMP by inviting veterans with the oldest appeals to opt in first. If you have not received a letter in the mail regarding RAMP, the VA is still processing your appeal through the current system and will notify you if and when you become eligible for the new program. The VA is also considering modifying RAMP so that all claimants with appeals pending would be eligible.

Opting into RAMP is entirely voluntary, but I would strongly recommend eligible claimants consider this program, as it offers the following benefits:

• Early participation in a new streamlined appeal process.

• Faster decisions—the VA’s goal is to average 125 days in RAMP.

• Protection of the earliest effective date for benefits while pursuing any or all of the three review lanes.

DAV was instrumental in developing and passing the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, and we believe RAMP can provide eligible veterans many of the legislation’s benefits prior to the law’s full implementation next year. If you received notice from the VA about enrolling in RAMP or would like to know more about this program, please contact your nearest national service office to discuss whether opting in is the right move for your appeal.

Learn More Online

To find the national service office nearest you, visit dav.org/veterans/find-your-local-office.