Effective February 19, 2019, all new appeals filed with VA will be processed under the modernized appeals system. Enacted in August, 2017, the Appeals Modernization Act provides three appellate options: supplemental claim, higher-level review, or appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals. Currently, veterans wait an average of five years from the date an appeal is filed for a decision from the Board of Veterans Appeals. VA aims to significantly reduce this wait time by providing decisions on supplemental claims and higher level reviews within an average of 125 days, and decisions from the Board of Veterans Appeals in a year.
Over the past year VA has encouraged participation in their pilot program called the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP). Veterans advocates have observed that the results of the RAMP program have been mixed, and although many remain hopeful their optimism has been tempered by the results observed to date. Empirically speaking, the RAMP program was successful in reducing wait times. However, advocates have anecdotally reported an increase in decisions in which the agency has failed to review and consider the evidence of record and soundly apply the law. Accordingly, the jury is out with regard to whether the AMA will bring real relief to the flawed veterans benefits system, or amount to yet another broken promise.