By Barbara Rodgick
On Monday, August 6, 2018, Congresswoman Dina Titus hosted a Veterans Benefits Forum and Fair. The event was held in the Las Vegas City Hall from 2-4 PM. The keynote speaker was David McLenachen, Director of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Appeals Management Office. Mr. McLenachen described the Appeals Modernization Act which establishes a new review process (appeal) for VA claims. The new act, signed in 2017 does not go into effect until February 2019. However, Veterans with current disability compensation appeals pending (i.e. not activated) can take advantage of the new, faster procedures through RAMP, the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program, a part of the Appeals Modernization Act. RAMP promises to reduce the current appeals wait time which (by some estimates) can take as long as 7-10 years to as little as 125 days. RAMP participants can choose between 3 review lanes: a supplemental claim lane, where new, relevant evidence is permitted; a higher level review lane where the reviewer will only consider evidence in the VA’s possession at the time the RAMP claim is filed and may include an informal telephone conference; or a lane that leads directly to the Board of Appeals. In any case, the VA’s goal is to get a decision on your disagreement within 125 days. Up until now, the RAMP program has been by invitation only, with letters advising of the ability to opt-in sent to eligible veterans. Now the program is available to any veteran in the following appeal stages: NOD (Notice of Disagreement), Form 9 – Appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, Certified to the Board (but not activated) or Remand from the board to the VBA. For more information, you can visit the VA’s RAMP information page at http://benefits.va.gov/ benefits/appeals-ramp.asp. You can also call the VA at 1-800-827-1000 to have the forms mailed to you.