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Dro Bargaining


Many of you already know that the DRO is prohibited from initiating a "deal", but the VBM indicates the Veterans advocate can do this.

If the Veteran is not represented by a VSO, is there any reason why the Veteran can not suggest a "deal"? My guess is that this could work out to both the VA and the Veterans advantage, because the Veteran would get his benefits, and the Va would get this "out of their hair".

VBM quote follows:

12.8.2 DROs and Bargaining

According to the Manual M21-1MR, a DRO is not authorized to bargain with a claimant or his or her representative by asking or requiring him or her to withdraw a claim or take any action in exchange for the granting of any benefit. The specific language in the manual provides:

A DRO cannot make a bargain with an appellant or his/her representative by requesting or requiring him/her to withdraw a claim or take any action in exchange for the granting of any benefit.

Examplemad.gif A DRO tells an appellants representative that she will grant a 50 percent evaluation for PTSD if the appellant withdraws the claim for secondary service connection for hypertension.

A DRO is not prohibited, however, from discussing the lack of merit in any particular case or from encouraging the claimant or his/her representative to withdraw a meritless appeal. 297

The above language is quite significant, since DROs have been known to bargain with claimants and representatives so as to settle an appeal, and bargaining has been viewed by some as a strong-arm tactic used to pressure claimants to drop otherwise meritorious appeals. The above language, if followed by DROs, restricts their ability to engage in this controversial practice.

**Advocacy Tip**

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4 answers to this question

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My VSO did exactly this type of bargaining. The DRO was true to his word after going through the ritual of investigating the claim which was already fixed. It was no big deal since it did not affect my rate of compensation.

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Has anyone "bargained with the DRO" who is not represented by a VSO? Also have lawyers done this?

It would appear that this is not anything new...plea bargaining seems to go on all the time. Is this similar to a plea bargain?

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I think it is done with a wink and a nod. It usually goes something like " you drop your other appeals and we will grant your main disability". Sometimes you get the "we will grant P&T if you let the other claims just die". They tell your VSO or Lawyer this in so many words but not in front of you. They know they are not supposed to do it, but it happens and it is ok sometimes.

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Yes, this is nothing really new.

It's OK if done by the claimant or a service org. - it's just

the VA that's not supposed to do it to us.

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