The Decisions Review Officer (DRO) Appeal is a step within VA’s appellate process. Before you get to a DRO appeal, you must file an initial application for benefits. Some time after you file that application, VA will issue a rating decision. This decision will determine whether your disabilities are service-connected. Service-connected disabilities will be given a percent rating.
How do I start the VA appeal process?
Many veterans disagree with VA’s rating decision that their disability is not service connected. Other veterans disagree with the percentage rating given by VA. The effective date of benefits is also an important issue.
If you disagree with anything, it is important to understand that the rating decision can be appealed by filing a notice of disagreement. You must use VA Form 21-0958 to file a notice of disagreement. The notice of disagreement must be filed within one year of the rating decision.
How do I select a Decision Review Officer (DRO) appeal?
After the notice of disagreement is filed, you will receive an acknowledgement letter. This letter allows you to select Decision Review Officer (DRO) appeal or a traditional appeal process. If you want to select review by a DRO, then you need to respond and select that option within 30 days. Otherwise, VA will follow the traditional review process.
What happens during a DRO review?
When you select the Decision Review Officer (DRO) appeal process, your case will be reviewed by a Decision Review Officer. The DRO is supposed to be a senior, more experienced rater within the same Regional Office.
With the DRO process, your case may be heard at a hearing. This hearing can be formal or informal. Other times, there may be a phone conference. You can submit additional evidence, both lay and medical, to the DRO and make arguments about why you should win your case.
Regardless of whether you select DRO review or the traditional appeal process, VA will ultimately issue a decision on your case. This decision will either come in the form of a statement of the case, a rating decision, or a DRO decision. If the decision does not grant everything that you have requested, then you should consider filing an appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals.
Many people find that it is helpful to have an attorney representing them in the VA appeal process. If you would like to have a free consultation with one of our attorneys to find out if this would be helpful to you, simply call the phone number or complete the “Need Help” form on the right side of this page.