When you apply for Veterans disability benefits, you’ll receive the VA decision in a letter. If you are denied benefits, you can appeal to the Decision Review Officer (DRO). However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is an optional step in the appeals process. If you’d prefer, you can skip the DRO review and appeal directly to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA).
About the DRO Review Process
The Decision Review Officer (DRO) is a senior-level VA employee who handles post-decision appeals. When you receive your Notice of Decisions (NOD), you can request that your appeal be reviewed by a DRO instead of being put into the line for a traditional review. You also have the option of requesting a DRO hearing at any time as long as your case remains at the regional VA office.
There are several benefits to a DRO review.
- The DRO hearing happens more quickly than a BVA appeal because you do not have to wait for the VA to issue a Statement of the Case to request it.
- As an experienced employee, the DRO has a stronger knowledge of VA disability claims and appeals than the rating specialists or claims officers who initially review applications for benefits.
- You’ll be able to communicate directly with the DRO at your hearing held in-person or by telephone conference.
The DRO has the power to confirm or overrule the denial but does not have the authority to overrule any favorable portion of the previous rating decision unless there has been a clear and unmistakable error.
However, if the DRO confirms your denial, this doesn’t mean you’re out of options. Depending on the circumstances, you can file a supplemental claim, ask for a higher level of review, or submit a NOD to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
Contact Us for Help With Your VA Disability Claim
VA disability law is complex, and the process of appealing a denial can be difficult to understand. To protect your right to benefits for your service-connected disability, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation to discuss how our skilled Veterans benefits attorney can assist with your VA disability appeal.