Decision Review Officer (DRO) Appeal

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.

Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

I saw Travis on some YouTube videos. It was the way he worded things, I just felt compelled to contact them about my situation, he seemed trustworthy. Travis told me he thought he could help me. I was hesitant, but proceeded. The claim process was long, but my claim was granted. They are organized and punctual. Jessica and Travis are a strong team. I feel the Lord led me to Perkins & Studdard. I consider Travis an advocate and friend. ThanksCorby Reese
It has been a pleasure working with Jason and firm, very knowledgeable and professional, He did awesome job to get settlement that I need for my workmen comp case which was fair in my case, cause the insurance company was trying low ball me and not give me nothing but Jason fix that ….I truly recommend Perkins&studdard any workmen comp case that you have and also want thank Tina also for helping me along this process Thank you Perkins&studdardjahbari swint
Thank you Jason and Tina for everything you've done. Much appreciated. Great law firm! Great results!! Thank you!!! (Austin and Valerie)Valerie Mellinger
Travis and the team working on my VA claim are awesome. I’m happy with their integrity and diligence on working on my claim.Chris “Greybeard” Mullennix
I can't express enough how great it was to work with Perkins Studdard. They are extremely knowledgeable, professional and keep you aware of everything happening with your case. Very friendly from the front office to Mr. Perkins. I would HIGHLY recommend Perkins Studdard!James Strickland
I recommend Travis for an Veteran that has been dealing with constant denial with claims. He also , cover cost for my nexus letter when I ran into financial troubles , that helped me win my case.edwin Cook
I highly recommend Travis Studdard to represent anyone looking to help with VA claims. The VA is very difficult to deal with when attempting to get benefits from service connected injuries, at least that's my experience. Travis and his team knows the VA system and the legal procedures to help you get what you deserve. Travis was kind and passionate with me throughout this process and therefore, I highly recommend this law firm to represent DAV's.Terry Hembree
Such an awesome team. They spoke to me like a person and helped me through every decision with knowledge.Kevin Collett
Highly recommend this firm. Did exactly what they said they were going to and fairly timely. The VA is sometimes extremely difficult to navigate but this took all the leg work away from me and got me the result I thought was fair.Andrew Boone
Amazing staff, very informed along with excellent communication. Within just a few weeks of work, Mr Studdard was able to make things happen that normally take years! Highly recommendJacob Sylvester

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