Recently, I had an opportunity to visit on the phone with a VA DRO (Decision Review Officer) from the Houston VA Regional Office in one of my client’s cases.
The DRO and I spent about 20 minutes discussing the issue that has been holding the claim up since 2010; the next day I got an email from that DRO indicating she reviewed the entire C-File, my arguments, and was issuing a decision that day.
20 minutes on the phone – problem solved.
Now, I don’t know if the DRO’s decision is going to go my client’s way; frankly, that doesn’t matter.
I feel that the Veterans’ case is strong enough that we will eventually prevail.
What does matter is that when Veterans, their representatives, and the VA can actually visit and talk about a case – things get accomplished.
This dialogue with the good and decent people inside the VA is as important to helping Veterans as educating Veterans about the finer points of the VA Claims Process.
How I approach a VA DRO hearing.
It is this simple: I try to get an understanding of how the VA sees the Veteran’s claim or appeal.
As a result, the Attig Law Firm has been having success for our Veteran clients at the DRO Hearing.
In some cases the success is a win with past-due benefits. In other cases, it is an adverse decision that we can finally appeal to the BVA. In most cases, it is a mix of the 2.
I strongly encourage my clients to participate in the DRO process, for 2 major reasons:
1) It helps to narrow the issues to those that are truly “contested”;
2) It opens a dialogue with the VA about the Veteran’s claim or appeal;
Though I’ve seen statistics that indicate that only 21% of VA Ratings Decisions are changed at the DRO hearing level, the Attig Law Firm has seen better numbers.
While every case is different, and there is no guarantee, we have been successful in getting partial and full grants at the Decision Review Officer (DRO) level in well over 80% of our cases at various VA Regional Offices.
So heads-up VA: if you really want to alleviate the backlog – and I know a few of you do – please consider asking management to put more resources into the DRO program.
The dialogue between Veterans, Veteran’s attorneys, and the VA’s DRO can do more to reduce the claims backlog than any other program or effort I’ve seen in the last 5 years.