A DRO appeal for veterans benefits is a complicated request. I believe these types of appeals for difficult for two reasons.
For one, a lot of military vets do not know the difference between a DRO appeal versus a BVA appeal. Sending a case onto the BVA appeal process can turn into a 3 year waiting game.
Second, Veterans appealing their disability benefits are forgetting to use their Notice of Disagreement (NOD) as a source for such request.
DRO Appeal or Decision Review Officer
Basically, a DRO is a person and they review decisions made by a Regional Office (RO). DRO reviews are optional. In theory, the DRO is supposed to be a different person versus the person that reviewed an initial claim for benefits.
Although this process is optional, unless Veterans request a DRO Review, it will not be granted.
How to Request a DRO Review
There are many different ways to request this type of appeal. Personally, I believe making a formal request and including it as part of the NOD and VA Form 21-0958 is the strongest and most effective process.
That said, be careful. In today’s world of VA claims, Notices of Disagreements are becoming one of the biggest areas where military families are failing. Thus, military families are encouraged to study this process or seek help from a Veterans Attorney.
DRO Second Chances
Yes, military veterans have a second chance at requesting a DRO appeal. Once the VA receives a notice of disagreement from a Veteran, they will receive a Statement of Case (SOC).
A statement of case for a veteran’s appeal is supposed to give formal notice to military veterans that they have a right to a DRO review.
Filling Out an NOD
Personally, I believe a notice of disagreement containing a DRO appeal request should be purposely drafted. In other words, every notice of disagreement should include:
- Correct Labeling,
- Identifying Date of Decision
- Express a desire for appellate review.
For reasons outside the scope of this article, there are many disadvantages of using a notice of disagreement to share why the appeal should be overturned and making reference to evidence.
If you are at this part of the process, please contact me for help. I wish you the very best.