Intro

Welcome to our Military Disability blog! We encourage participation. Please feel free to comment on any post, including questions. We want to make sure we give you the information you need, so feel free to ask us anything about military disability, and we'll add it to our blog queu.

Our goal for this blog is to jump deeper into specific issues than we can on our website, www.MilitaryDisabilityMadeEasy.com. The site should still be the first place you go, though. It has an immense amount of information, and should be able to address the majority of your questions very well. If not, please let us know.

Below on the right, you'll see that you can sign up to follow our posts via email or via RSS feed. Keep informed!

Last but not least, this blog is going to deal just strictly with the specifics of the Military Disability system that is functioning right now. You might also want to follow our Top News stories for all current news about and future plans for the disability system.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The New VA Appeals Process - RAMP

The VA has officially started their renovation of the VA appeals process—hooray!

However, it isn’t quite time to celebrate for everyone. The VA’s new RAMP (“Rapid Appeals Modernization Program”) will only be available by invitation until the full program is implemented sometime before February 2019.  

Starting this month (November 2017), the VA will be sending out RAMP invitations to eligible veterans with pending VA appeals. The invites won’t go out to everyone, so even if you are “eligible” and have had your appeal pending for a while, it doesn’t mean you’ll get one.

The VA’s goal is to slowly grow this program over the next year or so until it can support the full load of every veteran’s appeal. Thus, they’ll be regularly sending out invites throughout the year, and once their infrastructure is solid enough, they’ll open the RAMP program up for everyone.

So what does this mean for you?

If you have not yet submitted an appeal, then you can submit your appeal using the current VA appeals process. You cannot yet apply directly to the RAMP program as invitations are only going out to veterans who already have their VA appeals pending. Sometime before February 2019, the VA will open up the RAMP program to new appeals as well, but there is no way to know exactly when, so you have to still apply via the current system. Although, once your appeal is in the system and pending, you might get a RAMP invite.

If you have already submitted a VA appeal, then just sit back and wait. You might receive a RAMP invitation sometime this coming year, but there is nothing that you can actively do right now.

If you receive a RAMP invitation, then you have the option to choose whether to participate in the new RAMP process or to leave your appeal in the old process. Either way could be fine, depending on your case, and it is completely up to you.

The goal of RAMP is to make the VA appeals process faster, so it may be in your best interest to switch to RAMP. However, if you’ve been pending for awhile and your case is more complicated, it may be better to stay.

Under RAMP, you have the ability to choose one of three “lanes” to put your appeal in. If you pick the best lane for your type of case, then it will be reviewed much more quickly than the current system. If, however, you pick the wrong lane or it is too complicated for a particular lane, it will then be transferred to the other lane or the BVA’s longer line.

Even under RAMP, more complicated cases must go to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA), but the BVA will not be reviewing any RAMP cases until February 2019. Until then, the BVA will simply focus on the pending appeals in the current system.

It’s important that you understand the types of cases that should be put in each lane so that you make the best decision for your VA appeal:

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. 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 Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). Again, however, the BVA will not be reviewing cases under RAMP until February 2019 as they are already overwhelmed under the current system and need to focus on that.

So until the RAMP program is fully implemented, only the first two lanes will be beneficial. If you decide to participate in the RAMP program under one of the first two lanes, and disagree with their decision, then you can appeal directly to the BVA.

As the BVA will be focusing on the current appeals, it is definitely fine to choose to not participate in the RAMP program. Depending on your case, however, the RAMP program may be a godsend. In reality, the majority of VA appeals are fairly straightforward cases that are simply bogged down in the overload of the current system. This new RAMP system will allow those cases to be separated out and reviewed more quickly. 


Ultimately, the VA’s new RAMP program should make the VA appeals process much better in the long run by dividing the labor among three lanes instead of it all landing on the BVA. However, it will take some time to fully implement and be available to everyone. Hopefully during that time, they’ll be able to work out the kinks and have a solid system ready to go by February 2019.

75 comments:

  1. Quick question on heart arrhythmias -- I am on active duty and currently seeing a cardio specialist for episodes of possible arrhythmia (racing of the heart, accompanied by occassional light headedness). Echocardiogram shows MILD regurgitation; Stress test shows some arrythmia; CAT Scan of heart and circulatory system shows some calcification (score of 56) and the heart monitor shows arrhythmia but not close enough in episode to cause concern; however referred to electrophysiologist. What questions should I ask, what should I look for? And, what is the potential for disability rating; more importantly how COULD this affect my active duty status?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have enough information to really know just how much this condition affects your ability to do your job. Are you able to fully perform all the duties of your MOS? Are you able to be deployed? Since the condition is recorded as mild, the arrhythmia may not yet be severe enough to limit your performance, and so you may still be considered fit for duty for some time. Only if you have episodes regularly which limit your ability to work would the docs (or your commander) feel that your condition is severe enough to make you unfit for duty.

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/unfitforduty.html

      As for a disability rating, it will qualify as long as it is considered service-connected.

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/service-connected.html

      To make sure you receive a fair rating, it is vital that your physicians record the extent of your condition as thoroughly as possible, including ECG tests of episodes. Supraventircular arrhythmia is rated on the number of episodes/year, but each episode must be documented by an ECG to qualify.

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/theheart.html#p

      Ventricular arrhythmias are rated on a number of factors. Make sure that the medications used, MET test scores, imaging test results, ejection fraction scores, and all symptoms/episodes are thoroughly recorded in your medical records. This will ensure that the condition is properly rated when the time comes.

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/theheart.html#f

      With the very limited knowledge I have of your condition, it probably would not receive a very high rating at this point. However, if it worsens in the future, the VA can increase your rating to reflect the severity of the condition.

      Delete
  2. I sent in my appeal back in 2013 had a hearing in Feb2016 took the hearing officer until Dec.2016 to get it to the rating office. have not heard one thing from the rating office and it has been a year now do you feel I should enter the RAMP program? My main question is if the hearing officer decided in my favor and is just waiting a rating to be assigned will the Ramp program, just take the hearing officers decision and assign the rating ? or will it get a whole new review? Please let me know
    Jtruscott171@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you received an invite to use the RAMP process? If your case has already been decided, then it is unlikely that they will send you an invite. So if you receive an invite, then it won't hurt you to switch over unless you case is fairly complicated. If it isn't and clearly fits into one of the two fast lanes, then it might be best to switch. If it is more complicated, then just stay where you are.

      Delete
  3. What is my chances in getting high rating with COPD Gulf War or environment related to it. I have service records for SOB from deployment and till this day I still take meds such as albuterol, steroids albuterol, nebulizer and allergies shots and periodically doctors visits f/u. My last PFT was normal however it does says patient unable to exhale for 6 seconds on FVC he appeared to be short of breath albuterol was given. Mild air trapping was diagnosed. Thanks for the help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Carlos -

      COPD is rated on the Respiratory Rating System based on your test results. Since the records state that your PFTs were normal, then you would only qualify for a 0% rating. Your tests would have to be limited (not normal) in order to qualify for a rating for COPD. You can check out our rating chart under the Respiratory Rating System:

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/therespiratorysystem.html#system

      Delete
  4. I have a cam and pincer impingement in both my left and right hips. This was not diagnosed while I was in the service but manifested itself with significant hip pain after PT and sitting for extended periods of time "Indian Style". Sitting in the position was required in boot camp and At times it was difficult for me to stand up and move when instructed too. I recently had to have surgery to repair my left labrum after a very minor fall to my knees. Speaking with the orthopedic doctor he indicated that my labrum had been beaten up over a very long period of time and that the fall was basically the straw that broke the camel's back so to speak. More than likely my right hip is in the same condition due to the same bone structure of my hip and femur.

    I filed a claim but was denied. I read that a genetic issue could not be rated but if there is a condition that was aggravated by military service it could be rated. I was denied for a "hip strain" bi-lateral. Would there be a better way to file the appeal or would it be better to refile under a different claim? What would be the best approach to get this service connected?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The issue is that there is no evidence of these conditions while in service. Did you ever see a physician for pain in these areas at all while serving?

      If a condition isn't officially diagnosed within 1 year of service, then it is not service-connected unless it is included on the presumptive list.

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/vapresumptivelist.html

      Without medical records from service even showing the symptoms or qualifying on the presumptive list, it is highly unlikely that you'll be able to get service-connection.

      Delete
  5. My appeals is a an administration level that I was told by the 800 number is at extraschedular. I am applying for IU do to Reiner's syndrome, multiple joint issues. My question, is this a good thing for a positive outcome?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Extraschedular just means that your case wasn't very straightforward and they needed someone to take a closer look at it.

      Individual Unemployability has fairly plain requirements to qualify.

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/permanentandtotalunemployability.html#iu

      Since it's extraschedular, I'm assuming that it's difficult from the evidence you submitted to determine whether or not you really are entirely unable to work. They could definitely still decide in your favor, they just needed someone to take a deeper look at everything.

      Delete
  6. Dr. George P. Johnson I denied for liver disease secondary for ptsd and migraines meds. I just found out that I have new evidence for HEP B and HEP C records while in service in which can overturn the previous to decision. What is the chances in winning my appeal since I was treated in service and having hemochromatosis diagnosed as well. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was denied I meant. Thank you.

      Delete
    2. If your current liver disease is connected to the hepatitis, then you have evidence that it existed while in service and you should be successful. Hemachromatosis can also cause liver disease, so depending on its service-connection and the details of your liver disease, it could also be the cause.

      A letter from your physician stating that your liver condition is "more likely than not" caused by your hepatitis or hemochromatosis could also help your case.

      Delete
  7. Dr Johnson,

    I retired in 2005 after 21 years. I injured my Thoracic spine early in my career, it healed and I thought all was fine. On my retirement physical, the x-rays revealed 3 compression fractures in my thoracic spine. Over the past few years, I have had several for compression fractures in the Thoracic spine. I found out 2 years ago that I have osteoporosis and it runs in my family , 2 of my brothers have it also. I do have a 10% rating for my back but believe it should be higher since I literally cannot do any type of impact exercises or lift anything heavy for fear of more injuries. 9 of the 12 Vertebrae are compressed, I have been hesitant about trying to claim the Osteo, but my initial injury occurred in my 1st 4 years in the Army during a field exercise. Is there any any to claim the Osteo? Thank You Sir, John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is definitely nothing against claiming osteoporosis, although if it is only manifesting in your spine, you are unlikely to get a second rating for it. The VA will only give a single rating per body part, so only one rating can be given for the cervical spine and a second for the lumbar.

      Since the osteoporosis was diagnosed after service, however, you'll have be able to prove service-connection, most likely that it was caused by another service-connected condition, like your spine. If you can so service-connection, it definitely can't hurt to apply.

      As for the 10%, that is probably the correct rating, unfortunately. Spine conditions are rated on limited motion, and the range of motion has to be pretty limited to get a rating higher than 10%. Take a look at your medical records, however, and compare your range of motion measurements to the Spine Rating chart to determine if your rating is correct. If not or if your range of motion has worsened since then, definitely submit to have your rating increased.

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/thespine.html#form

      Delete
    2. Thank You Sir, I really appreciate it.

      Delete
  8. I have been at 10% since 1977. I have had 3 knee scopes and I am still at 10%. It has been appealed since 2013. Do I need to wait it out or try to talk to someone in Washington, DC?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The VA rates knee conditions based on the main symptoms: usually limited motion an pain. If your knee does not have severe limited motion, then the minimum 10% rating is given for pain. The knee scopes are not evidence of a severe disability themselves and so do not contribute to rating consideration. Instead things like limited motion, pain, and instability are considered when rating. If your range of motion qualifies for a higher rating than 10% or if you have instability, cartilage dislocation, etc., that would qualify you for a higher rating, then you have a case for appeal. If not, then you were rated correctly.

      You can't surpass the appeals process, unfortunately, so you just have to hang in there. The higher courts will not review your case without you having gone through the appropriate appeals procedures first.

      Delete
    2. Check out our Knee page to see if your symptoms qualify for a higher rating:

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/kneeandleg.html

      Delete
  9. Dr. Johnson,
    I received the invite to the RAMP and have read all the pros and cons to the program though I can't find anything on the pros and cons of staying as a legacy. Do you know?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Basically, you'll just stay in the line that goes directly to the BVA, which is the incredibly long one that is taking years to get through currently. The benefit of staying is if your case is more complicated and wouldn't be able to completed in one of the other RAMP lanes. This would mean it would still end up in the BVA line, but you'd lose your place. So if your case is more complicated and unable to be completed by the RAMP lanes, then it is more beneficial to just stay.

      Delete
  10. Hello! My husband was denied for bilateral inguinal hernias that were diagnosed 40 days after discharge from active duty service. The VA states the condition should have been caught at the return exam. Problem is - he is National Guard! They didn't do return exams at that time, the exam was scheduled with the VA. It's my understanding that now it is customary for this exam to happen on re-entry to the US, but it was NOT then. We have been waiting for BVA appeal since 2016. We are being offered RAMP, however, we're terrified it will push us back so much farther. What would you recommend? And how do you get the VA to understand the exam opportunities for national guard at that time (2013)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Replying to add - the condition was diagnosed at the "First Exam back" at the VA. and was within a year of discharge.

      Delete
    2. Tricky situation. Inguinal hernias is not on the list of chronic conditions that are automatically approved if diagnosed within a year of discharge, however, only a month after service should still be sufficient evidence that they were present while in service.

      It's odd that the VA is noting their reason for denial as the fact that it was not noted on the exam. If the exam didn't even exist, which exam are they referring to? You shouldn't have to prove that the Guard didn't do an exam. If there is no record of the exam, then there was no exam, and so of course it wasn't noted on the exam.

      Was there another exam conducted around the same time that the VA is actually referring to? If so, then clarifying what that exam was and why they didn't record the hernias is important.

      Ultimately, this isn't a clear-cut case. As far as RAMP is concerned, it is likely that they'll end up sending your case to the BVA anyway, so it may be best to stay where you are. It's a tough call. It would be a risk to use RAMP, but if there is clearer evidence than I am aware of, it might be worth the risk. However, it could ultimately prolong the process. Tough call.

      Delete
    3. When do they ever get it all right

      Delete
  11. I am a Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veteran who was denied service connection for prostate cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange. The current VA policy is that only those with "boots on the ground" qualify for presumptive exposure to Agent Orange. I have since found evidence that my ship tied up to a pier where Agent Orange barrels were leaking. Also, as a student naval aviator, I underwent survival training at Eglin AFB in Florida where Agent Orange testing took place. My intention is to present this as new evidence for my appeal. My question is, is it possible to know where I am in the appeals process at this time? I appealed in March, 2016. If accepting the invitation to the RAMP and selecting the lane that allows new evidence, how can I know if this will allow me to submit my new evidence sooner than I could if I stay in the legacy appeals process? Thank you for taking these questions about RAMP.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There isn't a way to know where you currently are in line. However, if you switch to RAMP it is likely that your case will get sent back to the BVA anyway. Blue Water Veterans are not currently on the Presumptive List, since that bill stalled in the House last year, so your case is not straightforward. In order to win this one, they would have to make an exception to the laws based on the quality of the evidence you have, and that would have to go through the BVA. You can always give it a shot, but it's probably best to stay where you are, at least until a bill is passed that puts you on the list officially.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for the reply. My new evidence, however, has nothing to do with being Blue Water Navy, but shows exposure to Agent Orange at two other locations. It would not be an exception to the law as I see it. Rather than presumptive, it would be more in line with direct exposure. I spoke with my Regional Office in Roanoke, Virginia yesterday and you are correct in that there is no way of determining where I am in the queue. I was told that I am at least a year out of being able to present new evidence to a Decision Review Officer. Opting into RAMP may allow me to present my new evidence sooner, but as the program is so new, there is not enough data upon which to rely to know how much sooner.

      Delete
    3. Gotcha. Yes, as long as you can show proof of that exposure, then it should qualify, so that's not an issue.

      I agree with the Regional Office. RAMP may get you there sooner, but no guarantee.

      Delete
  12. Yes, that's what the Regional Office told me: No guarantee. As the invitations from Roanoke had been sent out the first week of March, there was no way to know if opting in moves one up sooner or not. I'm thinking of giving it a shot as my appeal was going to be presented to the Decision Review Officer at Roanoke and not the BVA. One thing I did inquire about was if by opting into RAMP, does that just make those in the queue wait any longer? I didn't want to make those who have been waiting much longer than I have to have to wait even longer. I was told that there were probably many who would not opt to join RAMP and be content to simply wait. Many VSOs are posting that RAMP isn't a good thing, but like most things, it depends on one's individual circumstances. Thanks again, Dr. Johnson. I appreciate your taking questions and responding so quickly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wanted to add, if the Blue Water Navy Act is passed before any of this transpires, then all this is moot.

      Delete
    2. No, you jumping into RAMP won't affect anyone else. Those still in line will stay in line for the BVA. If RAMP ends up sending you back to the BVA, you'll end up at the end of the line, not the beginning. It's a different path, not cutting in line.

      Delete
    3. Thanks. From my understanding, I'm not in line for the BVA now anyway. I'm merely waiting to present my new evidence to the DRO in Roanoke. If that does not go my way, then I end up in line for the BVA.

      Delete
  13. Dr.
    I just received an invitation to participate in the Ramp program. I looked on line and found articles from different Lawyers who represent veterans, and they all basically say stay out of Ramp. There reasoning is sound, in one cause you cannot submit new evidence, and if denied you have to wait until Feb 2019 to appeal. Another reason was va has never been good at estimating how long it takes to do anything, yet they claim an average of 125 days and you will have an answer under ramp. And the third reason for remaining with he old system is because if you find you do not get your claim approved you cannot get back into the old appeal system. Finally, if you do go to ramp it is very possible that you will receive the same denial that you already received since the same people will be making the decision on your appeal. I don't trust the va to do anything correct. I've been dealing with the va since 1986 so, and I was a service officer for about 3 years, I understand the system, and I still don't trust the va to do anything right. Are you for or against the option to opt into Ramp, or do you thing as I do, that the sooner I opt in the sooner I become a VA guinea pig, because until the do ramp for a while they really have no idea if it will work better or be worse. thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rick b, the third reason you cite is that once you are denied in RAMP, you cannot get back in the "old appeal system." Just what exactly is the old appeal system? If you see my circumstances above, my claim has not yet been looked at again as I have new evidence I want to present. If I fail at that, what is the new appeal system in Feb of 2019 and how does it compare to the old one? Thanks in advance.

      Delete
    2. The " old " appeals system is the system that is presently in effect, and will be changed over in Feb 2019, all new appeals after Feb 2019 will be under the new Ramp system. The only reason some of us are receiving an invitation to use Ramp now is because the VA needs guinea pigs because they have no idea how it will work when it actually goes into effect in Feb. The say it will take 129 days to finish an appeal under the new system, how in the world do that know that, when few if any claims have been processed under ramp.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Rick b. That's what I understood as well. From what my VA rep at my RO told me, I'm not likely to be able to present my new evidence before Feb 2019 as it is, so maybe opting in just gets me before the Decision Review Officer sooner than Feb 2019. The only thing that would make decisions faster is if someone decides them faster because they're under a deadline. From what I have heard, there are no repercussions for missing deadlines anyway. Also, it's easy to deny claims and put them in the appeal lane, the result of which gets them off someone's desk and helps them clear out their inbox. Bingo! Deadline met...bonus secured! I'm on the fence but may opt in to be a guinea pig. If HR 299 gets funded and passed, nothing I do now will matter anyway.

      Delete
    4. Rick, you bring up some good points. The reality is this system is untested and so we don't know just how it will go.

      However, for simple cases that are straightforward, it should be effective. These are cases with clear errors made by the VA (not ones that you'll have to fight), or that just needed new evidence.

      Now you mentioned that they don't take new evidence. Actually, they have an entire lane for cases with new evidence to consider. So if your case has new evidence that will clearly change their decision, then this could definitely be the way to go.

      As for the timeline they are giving, yes, their wait times for appeals is atrocious, but you have to give them credit for the changes they made to the initial claims system a few years ago. They have fixed their wait time for original claims. Most are now determined in the time frame given. And that is the goal of RAMP--to fix the wait times. So they should have it done in the promised time. Hopefully.

      Yes, if you jump ship, you can't go back. But in the current system, you may wait until Feb 2019 (or longer) anyway.

      It's really just a risk. For simple, straightforward cases, it's probably worth it. For others, maybe not, especially if your appeal has been pending in the system for multiple years already.

      Delete
    5. Veterans will be able to appeal to another lane if they disagree with their initial RAMP decision. If you receive an unfavorable decision within the RAMP system, you will have a one year appeal period to take your case to another RAMP lane (the Supplemental Claim Lane, the Higher-Level Review Lane, or the Board/NOD Lane), and your effective date will be protected.

      The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA, or the Board) will begin deciding RAMP appeals in October 2018. Previously, VA planned to open only the Supplemental Claim Lane and the Higher-Level Review Lane to RAMP participants, leaving any appeals to the Board until VAIMA (the new appeals system) was fully implemented in February 2019. But at a March 2018 conference for veterans’ advocates, Chairman of the Board Cheryl Mason announced that the Board will open to RAMP participants in October of this year.

      The new appeals system calls for three dockets at the Board, separate from the legacy appeals docket currently in operation. Veterans who appeal a RAMP decision will be first in line in the Board’s new dockets.

      Delete
  14. Greetings Dr,
    I opted-in on March 6th, all new evidence were added before Feb 15th and I called to confirm it has been posted. My condition is Pes Planus with Plantar Fasciitis/callous/spurs. I selected Higher-Level Review with Informal Conference. Lets see what happens. I dropped my NOD on Dec 7th 2017. So I have nothing to lose. Let the 125 day countdown begin, I'm on day 5.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great. Definitely keep us updated. It'll be good to hear about the experience directly from someone going through it.

      Delete
  15. I received a RAMP letter. I have had 5 back surgeries, a nuerostimulator, and right hip replacement. All paid for by the VA. I submitted my appeal back in June. Since that time I’ve had to have a new neurostimulator put in, left hip replacement, and many injections in my back. Due to the amount of surgeries I’ve had I developed CAS catastrophic a antiphospholipid syndrome and now have to get bi weekly infusions. So I do have new evidence to submit. I’m currently at 70% fighting for 100%. My biggest question is do you still get back pay through RAMP? I feel a lot of the article written online are by attorneys which they seem to be against. My guess is the new program is cutting them out in some way. Do you think it’s a Roth it for me to try?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since you just submitted in June, it probably won't make your situation worse to try RAMP. The current wait time is years, so at only a few months in, it probably is worth the risk to give it a try. We don't really know at this point.

      However, new and secondary conditions aren't added to your disability through appealing. You need to submit brand new claims for the new conditions, even if they are secondary to your currently service-connected conditions. So since CAS is a new diagnosis, just submit a new claim for that as secondary to your service-connected surgeries.

      Delete
  16. My claim has been on appeal since 2013...waiting for a DRO...had very favorable C&P exam 4months ago and decided to opt into ramp Feb.21...my logic is that I've submitted all information from my personal doctor so why not opt in and choose Higher Level Review, just recently having a favorable C&P should make it easy for them to rate me correctly this time around....i hope! We shall see

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Question, when you login to ebenefits, can you see anything that tells you the current status of your RAMP?

      Delete
    2. Ebenefits shows my claim complete as of March 16....i call the 800# and they informed me that is it's not necessarily complete but that it's officially into Ramp and claim will be complete not later than Aug.16 .....

      Delete
    3. I am wondering if the 800# gave a generic completion date (125 days) or if the date is actual to your appeal. I have been searching to find out a link to check RAMP status but am unable to locate. I truly wish the VA would of made RAMP more veteran customer service oriented instead of calling 800#

      Delete
    4. I'm sure they gave the generic date hince the "not later than" Aug. 18 date they gave me....reports have said they've been completing them in 33 days...ill post whenever that time comes

      Delete
    5. VA posted this article about checking your appeal status just last week:

      https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/46761/new-va-appeals-status-tool-provides-tracking-transparency-veterans/

      Any dates they give you are going to be generic and an overestimate of the actual time they'll take. They do this so that you are prepared to wait longer, but then happy when it comes back before that date.

      Delete
  17. I'm wondering the same thing, Corey. I visited my local DAV chapter yesterday and they emailed my application for RAMP along with my new evidence. I'll be checking periodically to see if the status shows up in eBenefits. I imagine it will show the same as regular claim status, i.e., received, in process, being reviewed, etc. If I see something, I'll post it here.

    ReplyDelete
  18. AHH-HAA - found more an update March 2018

    Article Link - https://cck-law.com/news/rapid-appeals-modernization-program-ramp-open-to-all-veterans-april-

    Beginning on April 1, 2018, VA will allow any veteran with a pending appeal to opt into its Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP). This is a major pivot from VA’s original enrollment strategy, in which veterans had to receive a RAMP invitation letter before opting into the pilot program.

    The Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) is a pilot program designed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to test the new appeals system scheduled to launch in February 2019. Signed into law in August, the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act (VAIMA) of 2017 required the creation of a new appeals process that would allow veterans to choose one of three appeal “lanes.” VA refers to the pre-VAIMA appeals process as the Legacy Appeals system.

    As of March 1, 2018, the number of veterans who chose to opt into RAMP since its start in November 2017 was lower than VA expected, with only 2,462 veterans opting in out of the 84,546 veterans invited. That’s about a 3 percent opt-in rate, which falls well below VA’s projected 10 percent rate.

    In a presentation last week, however, VA indicated it will be quietly abandoning the invitation-only plan for RAMP. At the Waco, Texas VA Regional Office, officials said that, starting April 1, 2018, any veteran with a currently pending appeal will be able to opt into RAMP by using a publicly available RAMP Opt-in Election form and bar code cover sheet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing, Donna. This is an interesting article, as I've been unable to find support for what it claims from any official VA source.

      Did the VA really open RAMP up to any applicant starting April 1st? If so, they haven't officially announced it, and there are no instructions on how to apply anywhere on their site.

      Do any of you see an option to apply when you check your appeal status? If so, please let me know so I can further look into this and be able to report what's really happening.

      Delete
  19. Dr. So I received a letter from VA with most of the claims denied. Will I have the opportunity to do the ramp, or just stay in the old system. I did receive my decision fairly quickly ( less than 4 months). Also is my discharge physical a good enough nexus for the VA? I am still going to the Seattle VA hospital for the same problems yet they said in the letter I need "new & material evidence". Honestly I'm at a loss here because I'm not sure what else they need. All my records are at the VA hospital they have access to them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How to appeal and what evidence they need depends on exactly why they denied the conditions.

      Did they say they were not service-connected? If so, then you need to show evidence of them having been originally diagnosed and treated while in service. If you do not have this evidence in your military medical records, then you'll need evidence that supports one of the other requirements of service-connection or supports that you qualify via the Presumptive List.

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/service-connected.html

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/vapresumptivelist.html

      Them asking for new and material evidence means that whatever you submitted did not show enough proof that your conditions were service-connected. Once you figure out how your conditions qualify for service-connection, then you need to provide as much evidence as possible that supports it.

      As for RAMP, you'll receive an invitation if you can apply, but go ahead and apply via the old system first. Then you'll be invited to switch over.

      Delete
  20. I also received an invite I am at the DRO level since last Sept for Sleep Apnea secondary to Tinnitus and Rhinitis I have submitted and I M O from a doctor which makes the nexus on both issues I also show on c-file in military with many trips to sick bay for many E N T issues as well as epitaxies including where the doctor states on my exit medical check states E N T issues with epitaxies I also have been diagnosed with deviated septum if I choose the ramp program which lane would I choose and do I have to submit the entire N O D over again??

    ReplyDelete
  21. Also there is an entry in my c-file that states I was seen by a doctor for insomnia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Angelo -

      If you have new evidence that you did not submit with your original claim, then you need to pick the New Evidence lane. If you submitted everything you noted above with your original claim, then you do not have new evidence and need to pick the local higher level review.

      You don't need to submit the NOD, but follow directions on the invitation. They'll tell you exactly what you need to submit to them.

      Delete
  22. My question is my file is now at my regional office at the DRO level since June 2017 Sleep Apnea and MTSP, which is a appeal in which they said it could take about 394 days. Now my question is it best that I wait or try to do the ramp. Don't know much about this process.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the big question, Andrea Blair. No one, posting on this board at least, has gone all the way through the new process yet. I had new and material evidence for my claim, so I figured I'd jump in and submit it now rather than waiting to see my DRO at the Roanoke, Virginia, Regional Office. I haven't found out yet if my RAMP claim will be sent to my regional RO or if it will be seen somewhere else. I guess it doesn't really matter at this point, but like others have said, I wish there was a way to monitor the progress as it goes along. I'll know when I know, and I'll post here when I get word. My official opt-in date is 31 March 2018, so I still have a way to go yet.

      Delete
    2. Hi Andrea -

      Yes, we don't really know how long things will take and how this program will really end up working. However, if your appeal time was really quoted at 394 days, that will have your appeal finished this August. There is no evidence that RAMP will have it finished sooner than that, so it's probably best to not switch over, but just wait it out. Many appeals take YEARS, so RAMP is a great option for those, but if the 394 day estimate for you is really accurate, then switching to RAMP could be a risk.

      Delete
  23. Is MSRA worth claiming for disability?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Martin -

      MRSA is a ratable condition as long as it is service-connected. It is usually rated on any lasting symptoms/conditions that it causes.

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/service-connected.html

      Delete
    2. You are referring to the condition MRSA, correct? I'm not aware of an MSRA. Just want to make sure I'm answering your question correctly.

      Delete
  24. What is MSRA? It's customary to define acronyms that aren't that common.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MRSA is methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, a form of staph infection.

      Delete
    2. Yes, that's what I figured. Like you, I figured the MSRA was a typo. My admonition still applies in my opinion. While you are an MD and most likely know all of the acronyms, most of us don't,so rather than making the rest of us look them up, it would be helpful if posters would spell them out when they use them initially.

      Delete
  25. I just received an invitation and opted for higher level review as the only new information is located in my medical records. I am currently at 70% and was forced to resign from state corrections due to their refusal to provide accommodations. I have severe nerve damage in both feet, my right being worse. I asked to use cam boot and asked that on days with severe pain, that I be allowed to leave without being penalized. I was denied and did file and EEOC complaint, but unfortunately the EEOC stated that the prison was short staffed and could not afford to have an employee leave. I have had a heck of a time trying to find new employment with accommodations. I filed for IU, which is in appeal. Oh, and I used my husband's profile, my name is Rebecca Glorioso. Is there anyone who has had an appeal decision from RAMP yet? Just wondering if it was worth opting for. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An appeal for Individual Unemployability is not the "standard" appeal that RAMP is directly targeted for. Because of this, I would be hesitant to suggest that you opt in. RAMP is for straightforward appeals to basic disability, not specialized benefits like Unemployability.

      Tough call, though. If your case is really strong and the VA made a definite error, then maybe it is worth it. However, for things like Unemployability, the strength of a case is hard to determine. Based on the little information I have, I feel like it is a judgement call by the VA, so not a clearly strong case, but one that could go either way.

      Again, I'm hesitant to recommend it, but the call is yours.

      Delete
  26. Rebecca, so far no one posting on this page has had a decision as far as I know. I think I read somewhere that some have been decided in as little as 33 days, but they could have been very simple claims. My claim is in the Supplemental Lane, which may or may not be quicker than the Higher Review Lane. Every claim is unique. Good luck with yours.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Recieved two service connected ratings of 0% for depression and siezures secondary to neuro sarcoidosis.The statement of claim stated no compensatory symptoms .clearly incorrect ratings for each.VA guidelines read that just being diagnosed requires a minimum 10% rating for each.I requested a reconsideration and got the same results.I recieved the RAMP invite my question is should I enter the program and take a third bite of the apple with the same reviewers or continue in the current appeals process.just looking for opinions.By the way in my case the VA moved pretty quickly the initial claim 6mo the recosideration 3mo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you do not have any new evidence, I would not opt in to RAMP. You need a higher level of review by the BVA. Going through the same people won't make a difference.

      As for your claim, I just wanted to point out that there is not a minimum 10% for diagnosed depression. The minimum for that is 0%.

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/mentaldisorders.html#system

      You are correct, however, that an official diagnosis of epilepsy with a history of seizures is rated 10% minimum. To diagnose epilepsy for rating purposes, however, a seizure must be witnessed by a physician and neurological testing performed during the seizure. As long as you have evidence of this in your medical records, then you do qualify for the 10%.

      http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/centralnervoussystem.html#epilepsy

      Delete
  28. I opt into ramp this month April I been tring to get a rating for PTSD since 2016. I'll keep you all up dated, pray for me plz for a positive rating outcome in this RAMP!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very interested to see how it goes. Good luck!

      Delete