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Help With A Nod/ Dro Timeline

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So good afternoon. I've spent some time lurking in the shadows learning what I could from all the great posts on here, and figured maybe I can get some more info concerning my scenario. I was med boarded out of the Army through the (at the time) experimental joint MEB/VA process. In that process the MEB found me unfit for service for my Ankle (lod and SC 20%) and for my "degenerative disc disease" which they determined to be permanently aggravated by service. Well the VA came back in March of 2013 and said that there was no evidence to support a service connected determination for my Degenerative dis disease. Once again on my MEB determination (first page) the army clearly checked the box "permanently aggravated by service" and in its write up states it again. In Dec 2013 I filed a NOD for the claim. At the time I was unaware of what a CUE was so I just stated in the NOD "I disagree with your rating". My NOD status as of Feb 2014 was appeal pending. My appeal was registered in the Roanoke VA office but was transferred to the Baltimore RO. Since then I have received nothing from the VA and quite frankly am not sure if the claim has been lost or not. The supposed average days for a DRO appeal in Baltimore is at 503 days, I'm sitting at 527 days and simply want to know when I should "start shaking trees"? Also how the heck in the case of the VA do I even shake the trees?


Sep 2012 Initial Claim

March 2013 Notification of Decision

Dec 2013 Notice of Disagreement (DRO Selected)

Feb 2014 Appeal pending

Thanks in advance for any help.

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. "Once again on my MEB determination (first page) the army clearly checked the box "permanently aggravated by service"

Was any LOD or MEB evidence listed in the decision?

If not did you send them that evidence?

"so I just stated in the NOD "I disagree with your rating".

That is how many vet reps used to handle NODs....and probably still do...making a generic statement.

The NOD is one of the important documents any claimant will ever prepare.

It is the first avenue of attack.

I have always rebutted every single thing they stated in any decision hat was wrong and referred them to evidence I enclosed to support that.

Generic NODs , with no further submissions of evidence, might get a very generic DRO review...a copy and past of the decision.

I know because I got 2 copy and paste DRO reviews, based on a denial, and I was only denied because they ignored my critical evidence.(even when my former vet rep says he gave the DRO my IMOs at the second review.)Either the DRO or he was lying in the resulting SSOC.

I won that case at the BVA in 2010, filed in 2003..

The VA made 4 CUEs in each of 2 recent denials I got. I filed CUEs by email to the director and then they reversed...

But still dont want to pay me....

The VA makes MANY errors in decisions that , as in my case, if they never happened the award would have been made right away.

"when I should "start shaking trees"?"

In my opinion, when you are 150% confident of your claim.and your evidence and have found errors they made to your detriment, in either a denial or an award letter.

OR cannot find a status of it on ebenefits or elsewhere....

Do you have proof that the VA even received the NOD?

Edited by Berta
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I agree.

The NOD (response to denial) should directly address the reasons for denial with evidence.

The evidence must be stated and by which means it is relevant to claim.

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Berta posted:

Generic NODs , with no further submissions of evidence, might get a very generic DRO review...a copy and past of the decision.

end Berta quote.

I whole heartedly agree with Berta. This is your claim, and doing a great job on the NOD can/will affect the outcome.

Yet, my VSO "filed a NOD" in my behalf that was very, very generic. I went into a fair amount of detail as to why I disputed the decsion, but none of that found its way into my NOD.

One problem with a "generic nod" is that it assumes you will submit more evidence, even if it is "lay statements" made by the Veteran. I can see no productive purpose of the Veteran or his VSO "deliberately delaying" submitting additional evidence or lay statements. Why not simply include those with the NOD, and "reference" your evidence or lay statements?

So many times the VA says, "gee, we did not get your evidence"....

So, if you include it with the NOD, and reference "Dr. Johnson's 4-13-05 medical nexus statement is enclosed".

Its gonna be much harder for the VA to say, down the road, "There is no statement form Dr. Johnson on 4-13-05" in the record. If indeed, Dr. Johnson's statement is not in the record, the DTA suggests the VA must ask the Veteran for said statement, becuase the Veteran included a reference to it in the NOD so the VA cant say, "we did not know anything about that" excuse.

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First off thank you very much for the quick replies and help.

Berta: My LOD MEB evidence was listed in the decision. But the decision I received only addressed my ankle condition which was given service connection. Nowhere in the decision did they address why they denied my degenerative disc claim.

So my other question is that since my claim went from Roanoke VA to Baltimore MD, I no longer know how to send in any further information such as an “updated” NOD or any other evidence. Does it all go through a central processing place now? Or do I send it just to the regional office.

I’m past 150% confident of my claim and evidence. Two reps from the DAV have looked over my file and blatantly one said “how the xxxx did they xxxx this up”. I’ve also done enough research now to know that my MEB file has all the evidence needed to prove “aggravation in service”.

I do have proof that the VA received my NOD: they received it Dec 2013, and my file was moved to Appeal pending Feb 2014.

So my last question then is, how can I shake the trees? What is the best method? I’ve sent a request in through IRIS and never received a reply. At this point I’m tempted to walk into my congressman’s office and ask what he can do for me.

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OldmanS2, relax and take a deep breath.

It seems you have properly prepared your NOD and sent medical information in support.

The system is slow, but eventually they will get to it.

Perfect your NOD with further verified medical information and send it to one of the Evidence Intake Centers.

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OldManS2, I agree with Fat in that, while it's hard, relaxing at this point is your best bet.

Baltimore is something like a black hole and has been waved around in Congressional hearings as one of the worst of the worst. My initial claim started there. Actually Roanoke isn't much better per weekly performance stats.

With the current push to clear out the backlog before the end of the year, even less effort is being put toward the appeals process within the ROs. Still, funny things can happen. It also seems like there is a quiet effort to do something about the astronomically huge backlog of appeals.

While this will probably do nothing overall or could even slow down the process, contacting your senior senator has the highest probabily of success unless your junior senator or your congressman is on a veterans oversight committee. However, sometimes contacting an elected rep on the Hill will break something free. Some here have had some success in emailing Bob McDonald or the head of the VBA and pointing out your problem. That approach may work better if you're too frustrated to let it sit.

Personally, I wrote a lot of IRIS inquiries to check on the status. That provided a date/time stamp of written correspondence I could later reference. I still do this because there are various parts still hanging fire within the system somewhere.

Why did your appeal move? Did you move from Northern Virginia to Maryland?

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