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Inside Info From A Dro

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.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

This is great valuable info here...basicly what this DRO is saying ''its better to solve the vets claim with DRO's....I agree with that.

but so many claims are denied and the appealing process starts...and from what I experience with other vets they just give up and that's dang shame, because its not the vets fault if the RO OR BVA losing the vets claim/claims...while doing other projects....this whole subject is about our veterans & to me they should be given the up most respect and get their claims processed asap to a decision either via expedite or a ruling so the vet can decide what he/she needs to do...NOD's are good.CUE's. are good its how quickly there processed that matters to the Vet and hope there not lost/or forgotten in the way this process works.

What this DRO mention has some great information in it...read it and keep it handy.

In my opinion if you take official documentation/evidence and a DRO that will listen & read your evidence even if something is worded wrong, like he mention something pertaining to the same meaning but worded different as long as it is worded for the issue at hand & leaning in favor of the vet the DRO Can base his decision on that.

That's what they get paid to do...most vets that get turn down and without the help of Hadit or a good Attorney the vet gives up

Like Gastone mention Asking for a Informal Hearing is a good thing where the vet can face his decision maker basicly ''The DRO''...where you usually sit in this room at a long table with microphones /recording devises ect,,ect,,and you tell them about your disability /disability's present your evidence!!!

I won my claim at a informal Hearing also , I got thumbs up from the DRO had a cup coffee and then he went to work expedite my claims process and I had my decision in a hour that was it ,week later got my award letter..but to be honest with everyone I was a nervous wreck...I was thinking not so much with my claim and all my evidence but mostly I was thinking what am I going to do if I'am denied? appeal? I been told appeals could take months/ years...I think I know why now.

.However the informal Hearing was the best thing I did...but I realize every vets claim/claim's are different and has to be handle differently...and all these great people here at ''Hadit.com are here to help all our veterans....just do what they tell you and you will prevail.

I'll Always be grateful to this wonderful site and to Ms Tbird and all the highly intelligent wonderful people here at Hadit!

Edited by britton (see edit history)
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