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On asknod's recent blog post on VBMS (VBMS–THE NEW ELECTRONIC FRONTIER-PART I) he suggests visiting the RO an attempt to speak to your rater, in person:
"One of the strongest methods I have discovered is to show up at the front desk of your Regional Office and ask to talk to the rater who authored your denial. "
Sounds interesting, but what are the chances that (1) I'll actually get the face-to-face with the rater and (2) that I'll be escorted out of the building by VA MPs as soon as I show up asking to speak to the rater? Okay, so I'm mostly joking on #2, but really, it seems like just another one of those situations where you'll be told to shove off, there's no way, Sir!
I love the idea in concept, but what is the reality of the situation? How many have tried? Succeeded? Any suggestions for success? Any pitfalls to watch out for?
Note: This is about a denial that happened in August in which I was not given a C&P, the decision reason is complete nonsense (gasp!); I now have an IMO that asserts my present condition exists, impacts work, and is more likely than not SC'd; and several new signed sworn declarations. Also, thanks to all who have helped me along the way. It has been invaluable to the successes I have managed to secure. Last post I was on the fence yet again about my VSO. I finally dropped him and obtained a real life attorney.
(I've posted this here instead of asking directly so others might benefit from the question. I searched the forums but could not find an answer to all of my questions.)
AskNod's advice is usually spot on.
I did go to my VARO and asked to see my C-file. The guy at the front desk just laughed at me and said I would need to make an appointment.
All of my approval/denial letters from the VARO were always signed by the person running the facility and never mentioned the actual rater's name. This is likely to prevent any personal conflicts/calling security and/or to keep the raters at their desks.
I did have an in-person DRO review for a 5+ year old denial, but it took almost two years to get an appointment. In that case, the DRO sided with me because I had strong IMOs, multiple sworn statements, and a mountain of evidence on my side, much like you. Because you're just a couple of months past your most recent denial, I hope your lawyer is advising a reconsideration and converting it to an actual NOD if they don't approve before your time limit is up.
I agree. I did not find out who my rating specialist was until I read it on the Rate sheet in the RBA. You MAY be able to find out, but if they dont want to tell you, they may not. MY RO is about 4 hours away, and, even tho I have been there, they directed me to my VSO. They also gave me BS about an appointment. However, when I asked for an appointment on IRIS, I could not get one. Go figure.
I believe your chances are good to meet the rater but not sure if you need an appointment or not? for that, if you don't have an appointment and you go to your RO anyway just be nice and polite and I believe they will let you speak to your rater in person. (if he/she is there?)
Remember they can tell you anything like the rater is not here today or he went to another RO to train someone, they can tell you anything if they actually don't wont you to see your rater, it may be good to call first and ask!
My experience with raters is they don't like to talk much, when ya ask a question its just a simple'' yes or no'' but some will talk and be veteran friendly , I've talked to two different raters in my past experience and I had one that was veteran friendly and one that was not .
a lot of it depends on their personality in my opinion
Appreciate the responses. I have put all of the RO-level options I'm interested in in front of my attorney, but I'm confident that the path he chooses will be the best and have said I will follow his advice on the matter. I just have to wait for him to review everything and let me know which way we'll go. I'm interested in the idea of getting things done at the RO, but really only if there's a high probability it's going to get action in less than a year. I feel there's a more likely than not chance that the RO is going to spit out the same decision without much, or any, new investment in fact checking. So if it's something that is going to take a long time, I'd rather just be in line at the BVA I suppose.
Thank you all!
I have done this several times and always met with the individual. The first was in 1975 over a VA mortgage I was turned down for. The rater reversed his decision based on my imminent marriage.The second was in 1990. I was denied for a back injury incurred in an airplane crash while flying for Air America in 1971. We could not resolve that one because the records had not been declassified. It became a Mexican standoff with none of the parties willing to give. I lost at the BVA in 1992. I filed a CUE to reverse it in 2010 along with new 3.156( c) declassified evidence. I relented when the VA agreed in the Joint Motion for Partial Remand (JPMR) at the CAVC to grant my Hepatitis C at 100% back to 1994. The amount of money involved and the time to pursue it were nit noy and not worth the effort. It was a valuable bargaining lever to extract the 1994 P&T date and nothing more. We were arguing for 40% from 1989 to 1994. I also threw in 10% for tinnitus from 1993 to 94 as well. You should always have a few bargaining chips to give in return for the Big one you seek.
As I mentioned in the post, I do not suggest just cold calling them. I prefer the 800 Dial a prayer method I mentioned of suddenly getting cut off just moments after you mention you'll be there Friday morning at 0900 to try to resolve your "differences". Remember always. No guns, knives or tactical nuclear devices with long fuses. Eat your prescribed Valium and/or Thorazine and be polite as honey. You want a smiley, nonconfrontational meeting if possible. At worst, perhaps a "polite" disagreement and a request for what you need to attain the service connection/increase. VA raters are not going to play keep away from you. They are obligated to tell you what you need to succeed. As for Mr. Rater being in East Bumfork Ohio that week, VA cannot lie to you. If he's there, he has to make himself available or send someone in his stead who can discuss it.
My friend Kevin in the Philippines uses the Manila Office. Turns out the yokels there have only one DRO who is even remotely acquainted with the tenets of higher SMCs (O. P, R1 & R2). They denied R2 based on improper metrics. He was able to call up and meet personally with the Director of the Manila RO to resolve the issue. The director called in the rater and the three politely ironed it out. I think they agreed to send it up to VACO in DC for more intelligent folks to decide it. Nevertheless, it illustrates that the moat around the RO is far from impassible.
The absolute worst that could occur is you arrive and get the cold shoulder from the jack-booted thugs in the Foyer. In that case, you can have a valuable partner in Channel 7 news when you tell them the story afterwards-right outside the building. VA., as we all know, is now in the news pretty much 24/7/365. They can't fart without the media methane detectors going off. Your personal story of VA's intransigence always makes the six o'clock news if it's provable.
My last trick is the one I prefer. When I filed my Extraordinary Writ January 5th, all hell broke loose. The Seattle VA Director and the Veterans Service Center Manager (VSCM) both tripped over their neckties trying to "fix" 21 years of negligence and stupidity. I received my own personal VA employee to call any time I felt things were amiss. Tami S. and I developed a camaraderie that was like peas and carrots. She called me several times to arrange the best VLJ Board hearing in an extraordinary two weeks time ( April 29th). She personally met us (Bob Walsh) that morning and provided us with coffee and chit chat. I asked for my VR&E file that had been promised to me that morning. Tami dutifully went off in search of it and discovered it was "missing". This disturbed her far more than us. Seems a VR&E file may never be separated from the parent c-file. Tami was mortified that VA might "cheat". She personally tracked it down, sent it out to the vendor for copying and had it to me a week after the hearing. We still chat on occasion and discuss this and that. She is the RO's girl Friday and works the Congressional Interests (CI) section. That's the outfit who answers the Congressman/Senator's queries. You want that number on your autodial.
In sum, never for a moment believe your only avenue to RO ingress is the 800 number or IRIS. Calling Allison or Big Mac are viable if the error is extremely ugly. I would save that lifeline until there are no others. Remember, You only can use it once. Notwithstanding those venues, "dropping in" on the VARO with suitable forewarning is a valuable technique. VA is now in what we call defense mode. They are required to be "veteran-centric" and actually smile. They have to try to find common ground with you rather than laugh in your face and tell you all about those cold days in Hell. The new VA is required to "work it out" and meet the Veteran halfway. Always remember that golden phrase: "News and film on this story at six tonight on Channel 7 Investigates."
NEVER GIVE UP
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