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Inside Info From A Dro

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Notorious Kelly


Interesting summary of appeals process and opinions from a DRO:

"I have been a Decision Review Officer (DRO) at the Milwaukee VA Regional Office (VARO) since October 2002. I have worked at the VARO since November 1997. The following are my thoughts and concerns about the appeals process within the Veterans’ Disability Claims process.."


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N K: Great article, too bad the VA won't mail a copy to all Vets with the award/denial decision package. I had a very successful DRO Hearing 06/27/14. Opted for an "Informal Hearing," much to the chagrin of some of our fellow com-mentors. It worked for me, so I'm now an advocate for the "informal Hearing" if the Vet has all the I's and T's taken care of and feels comfortable doing it. I believe it worked to my benefit to have a back and forth dialog with the DRO. Left the hearing knowing exactly what the DRO Decision was. No waiting for the notification letter. My VSO DRO Rep had the Award letter on his desk by 330pm same day.

Over the past 31/2 years of research on appeals, the BVA seems to do a lot of remanding of claims. Wonder if this is due to Vets, their reps or the VA raters and DRO's.

Semper Fi


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This is really a shame and from what I am hearing...appeals are way up and growing...the VBMS Systems (over 600 million spent) was billed as a godsend for the VBA raters but not so by way of the facts and this testimony. Overall, I still believe that the VBA is trying to do the best possible job that they can but the tools that they were given don't appear to work? Frankly, if the raters and VBA employees had the right tools that they deserved, I trully believe that the disbaility claims backlog would be reduced very quickly. In the end, we have a lot of deserving vets that become discouraged and bitter about the treatment of their cases and trust is lost. Congress provided plenty of money but there's still a problem? It seems like there is always something that is not working? A C&P nurse did my C&P exam and did not do it right...she said..."don't worry about the range of motion measurements being wrong, the VBA will look at tyour entire SMR file"? Not so, based upon this testimony...the raters just read from the C&P exam and if it's wrong,,,the raters use it anyway...and that's what they mostly count on....very discouraging to sa the least?

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Outstanding article and great information.

Thank you Notorious Kelly.

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  • Content Curator/HadIt.com Elder

My favorite part:

Finally, there really has been no guidance, to date, on how appeals will be worked into VBMS. Currently, appeals are controlled through VACOLS without end products. Therefore, any NODs which are received must be sent to the appeals team so a VACOLS record can be established. Unfortunately, some NODs are being scanned into an electronic VBMS file without ever being sent to the appeals team. Therefore, the appeals team does not even know an NOD was received unless someone has a reason to review the VBMS file for a different claim, or a Representative contacts us asking about the status of the Veteran’s appeal. Right now, under current procedures, it is very easy to lose control of an appeal in VBMS.

Unfortunately, in the entire claims process, appeals seem to be forgotten. When changes are made to the claims process and/or the programs used to process claims, very rarely is there direction or discussion on how the changes will affect appeals.

"If it's stupid but works, then it isn't stupid."
- From Murphy's Laws of Combat

Disclaimer: I am not a legal expert, so use at own risk and/or consult a qualified professional representative. Please refer to existing VA laws, regulations, and policies for the most up to date information.


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