The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report on the VA’s Decision Review Officer (DRO) process. The GAO is an independent Congressional Agency that, among other things, reviews and audits how taxpayer dollars are spent. The head of the GAO is the Comptroller General of the United States; read more about the GAO by clicking here.
You can read and download a full copy of the September 2011 GAO Report “Clearer Information for Veterans and Additional Performance Measures Could Improve Appeal Process” by clicking here.
Here are some interesting facts/findings from the report:
Since 2003, 61% of Veterans have used the DRO process (Read more about the DRO process by clicking here).
* From 2003-2008, 21% of DRO Reviews resulted in a full grant of benefits, compared to 17% for the traditional appeal process.
* From 2003-2007, the average time from filing of your Notice of Disagreement to receipt of a BVA Decision was more than 1000 days.
* The DRO review process did not reduce the number of appeals that went to the BVA.
* The VA is considering giving DROs additional “work credits” when a DRO conference with a Veteran resolves the appeal.
The Attig Law Firm routinely uses the DRO process, when available, in its clients appeals. The Firm has found the process extremely helpful in accomplishing the following:
1) Securing additional grants of benefits, prior to BVA involvement, when the VA Regional Office has clearly erred in its decision denying benefits
2) Reducing the matters being appealed to the BVA to the matters that are truly disputed (or, better said, disputable) based on the evidence of record and the current state of the law. We expect that, in the long run, this will improve the BVA’s efficiency as the Veterans Law Judges won’t have to deal with what I call the “no-sense” claims – the claims where the VA’s denial makes “no-sense”.
3) We have interacted with many DROs – with only one exception, I have found those DROs to be exponentially more polite, civil, experienced, professional and polished than the other VA Claims Examiners we have interacted with (the one exception was probably just having a really bad day).
4) We have found that the opportunity for a clear and frank exchange of positions, and clarification of facts and law on both sides has led to quicker and more favorable resolution of our client’s claims. Our clients that have gone through the DRO process seem to hold an increased opinion of the quality of the VBA’s work after meeting and interacting with a DRO.
The Attig Law Firm encourages all Veterans to seek a DRO review prior to your formal appeal to the BVA. You MUST file your Notice of Disagreement first, but we have found that the DRO process has been instrumental in getting more Veterans the benefits they are entitled to, more quickly and more efficiently.
No post on this website is meant to be legal advice and the posts on this website do not serve as a substitute for legal advice. Information is power, and we are providing this information to give you, the Veteran, some power. This information is not widely or easily accessible to Veterans. The information presented on this website is a general description of law and processes; each case is different, and there may be approaches listed here that are not accurate or applicable to your case. Likewise, their may be information that is applicable to your case that is not provided on this Veterans Disability Compensation Blog.
It is very important that we note that each and every Veteran’s claim is different. Just because we were able to secure substantial past-due benefits for one Veteran does not mean or imply that we will be able to do so for you. In some cases, we may not be able to secure you any financial compensation due to the facts of your particular case.
It is best to consult with a lawyer familiar with VA Disability claims and benefits or a Veterans Service Organization to examine your particular case. If you would like to discuss your VA claim with a lawyer who handles VA Benefits and Disability Appeals, contact the Attig Law Firm, PLLC, for a free consultation with a VA Benefits attorney.