RAMP: The Fast Lane to Claims Resolution
If you’re bogged down in a disagreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs about a claim, help (or at least hope) might be on the way. Enter the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program, also known as RAMP.
RAMP will give veterans a more efficient claims review process, courtesy of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017.
According to a summary of the Act, it takes an average of six years to appeal a disability claim. The Act creates three lanes, which is meant to divide claims into categories and zip them through the process, instead of letting all claims stay lumped together. Lane 1 will move a pending appeal directly over to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, jumping over the other layers. Lane 2 takes a rejected claim and sends it to a higher level of adjudication for a second look. Lane 3 is where a veteran can submit new evidence in a claim.
These new steps are intended to speed the process. However, there are concerns. Apparently, the new act modifies the “duty to assist” language. That duty requires the VA to help a claimant to get the evidence needed for the claim. The government has all your files and therefore could quickly gather what is needed for the claim, but now that “duty to assist” language is changed.
Depending on your claim, you might receive an invitation to participate in RAMP. Look carefully at the details. Once you agree to RAMP, you might not be able to revert to the previous system.
In other news, VA Secretary David Shulkin is re-thinking the list of presumptives for Agent Orange. He’s reviewing the work of the National Academy of Medicine, its data and recommendations. More illnesses may be added for disability compensation.
(c) 2017 King Features Synd., Inc.