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ArNG11

DRO...Never again.

Question

So in my VA journey I have been learning as I go, trying to heed the advice of many who have had success with the appeals process.  As I have tried on my own I cannot recommend the process of appealing to the local regional office.  I had a strong feeling that I was going to loose again if I went the DRO route again for an appeal.  Although I knew better, I went with the recommendation of a law dog, sort of, they misunderstood, and asked for appellate review but opted for DRO, not what I wanted and well I hate being right, no dice.  I am getting the run around again.  However there is a bright side to this, and I wanted to share.  

The DRO made conflicting statements and confirmed that my evidence was not used for my submission for increase or my NOD even though both decisions stated they did.  In my case after my NOD, I submitted new and material evidence from an IME from Veteran friendly doc, Dr. Ellis. He knows his trade.  I got an increase from the date of his exam and I was hunky dory or so I thought. Got hosed again. But an interesting find.  The DRO stated that the reason I received the increase to 20% on my back was because of the Ellis opinion.  It included range of motion results and there was an actual ROM exam performed by him.  The two C&P's from the VA, one from QTC and the other from my friendly neighborhood VA Hospital in OKC, were bogus. Eye-balled and only slightly higher measurements to justify an increase.  They never used any measurement tools for ROM, (Goniometers).  Actually the first one I have seen was at my physical therapist, Dr. Ellis' office,  and the Functional Capacity Exam's I had done through independent providers, which I clearly remarked to that effect.  The inconstancies in the C&P exams I noted in the hearing.  

Multiple times before and after the hearing the DRO made a goof. She stated that my private  IME had the ROM measurements to justify my increase, however later she stated the contrary, that my opinions did not have ROM measurements and the VA's C&P docs did.  Then another goof.  My last recently service connected knees. SVC as related to service but 0%'s on both. No favorable ROM results. Yet  they did not weigh my IME results like they were supposed to.  The IME had ROM measurements, and I had gotten the IME before I submitted latter claims for the knees and hips. That evidence I used twice, once for my appeal on the back claim and the next when I submitted the initial claim for the knees. Accidentally in the dialogue she stated that the IME was used for one claim and not the other. However, I know for a fact that I sent the IME along with the measurements.  I have copies of every thing I send the VA. Green card and signature. And yes scanned on the computer as well.  Heck even in the SOC and make shift SSOC not officially stated, the list of evidence and ROM are noted.  The evidence was not used.  She confirmed this several times and contradicted her statements before. The evidence was there, the VA just didn't use any of it. Surprise,... surprise.  Now I am awaiting for the transcripts of the hearing and I want to find out whether those statements are omitted or garbled.  

The DRO process is just waste of time in my opinion.  Like others have stated and I quote " what part of no, do you not understand" AskNod I cannot in good conscience advocate this appeal route.  If you choose the DRO route make sure it is a formal hearing & on the record, also ask for transcript.  Be polite and do not discuss particulars of your claim off the record. 

Live and learn ladies and gentlemen.  JMO...JME

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i have one coming up....someday...will keep this in mind and will opt for formal.  I read ONE thread where a vet here talked about the good results from the informal hearing and it sbenefits, but with the VA its way too hit and miss, mostly miss, to chance something not on record.

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Yeah I agree,  it is ultimately your choice, I am technically on my last claim sort of.  I am not counting the IU claim as that is still in progress but man I really think the rules are made up as they go along.  I have had some success with a DRO or at least I thought that I had but I'm not so sure now.  It's like I started getting traction and all the while I'm getting caught up in a rut at the regional office BS. I have to wait and see as it is always the case, but I am seeing patterns here.  Gotta get up the food chain, the locals are geared in the same old mode. :wacko:

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Did you have an attorney rep you at the DRO Hearing? Did he attack or discredit any of the errors mentioned above? How did your attorney present and discuss the merits of your supporting "New & Material Evidence?"
 Did your attorney or you, request to be able to make a personal recording of the "Official Hearing?"

A close friend just had his DRO Hearing accompanied by his Attorney. After the initial DRO introductions and Official Hearing guidelines, his attorney proceeded to conduct a question & answer session (according to script) regarding his "New & Material" evidence supporting his appeal position. The DRO made very few comments other than to acknowledge receipt and inclusion of his N&M evidence. At the end, the DRO told him that additional Evidence would need to be submitted within 60 days, to support his SA appeal, or the Denial would be continued. No mention of any additional Evidence being needed to support his IU appeal.

It appears that the Vocational Rehabilitation Department "Denial Letter" did the trick on his IU Appeal. If I'm right, he should get a TXT MSG from his bank indicating the RETRO Deposit about 2 weeks before he gets the DRO Award Letter. He will keep the SA appeal alive to the BVA, with or without any new Evidence.

Back in 06/2014 when I had my DRO Hearing (opted for informal, all major $$ issues awarded) the wait time for the Formal Hearing transcription was said to be running 16 months. While discussing my decision to go with the "Informal Hearing," the DRO advised me that I could go back on the record at any time. At which point, the Hearing would be recorded and transcribed. The DRO agreed, that if we went back "ON the Record," I could begin recording the Hearing also. My recorder was already out.

Semper Fi

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Nope I am represented but my lapdog was AWOL.  I did this part on my own and the person by my side was the wife. I haven't even called the law dog and I'm not going to.  I want to see how long he takes but I think I may go at this alone. Which is stupid yes I know, but my hired dog is more like a Chihuahua.  At least from my point of view.  I'm disappointed really but I am a paranoid individual and well I ask too many questions and didn't bring in enough $ it seems for his time. I know you gotta put food on the table, but what ever happened to fighting a case on it's merits. Sh!t. I'm giving him till Monday mid day.  No call,  then I am going solo from this point. Revoking POA at this point is going to be a pain in the ass but I don't feel like he is part of MY team. This is going to go over like,... crap, I don't even have a witty remark for this one.

I went on the record and that is the way it needed to go.  My misses calmed me quite a bit when I started to loose composure.  So I'm glad she came with me.   I'm stuck on some fine points but I got this much out of the experience, just because they list your evidence, on the decision, SOC,SSOC, and even if the DRO themselves state they did, doesn't mean it was used and given it proper weight when they state they did.  All this time I thought I was on the right track and I was not.

Theres an old saying that goes " a man who represents himself has a fool for a client" .  Then I am a fool, a fool with a useless weapon.  Spinning my tires and digging myself deeper in a rut with no weight on the rear axle. Hand to hand is how I believe I need to go at this point. K-bar it is. 

JMO/ just my case.   

 

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The BVA is where the claim is treated as legal precedence. Dro's are glorified raters.  They are a Flat lined VA claim denying joke..

 

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My sentiments are exactly there.  Longer to cook the claim, and more retro for the legal eagle.  I feel that way now.  But I guess I will find out soon. Just very disappointing thus far.

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