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Decision Review Officer Hearings

by Joe Whitcomb / July 17, 2017

A Decision Review Officer (DRO) is an employee of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs who review certain types of appeals concerning veterans’ disability benefits.

Obtaining a DRO review is much faster than appeal to the Bureau of Veterans Affairs. In handling a decision review officer hearing, however, individuals frequently find it essential to retain the assistance of skilled legal counsel.

The Role of a Decision Review Officer Hearing

Decision Review Officer Hearings do not come into consideration until a veteran’s claim has been denied. Veteran’s Affairs regulations state that a veteran has a limited period of time to request a Decision Review Officer Hearing. If the Decision Review Officer Hearing process is not requested within an appropriate period of time, the Review Office will issue a Statement of the Case and the veteran’s appeal will be heard through the traditional appeal process.

The Powers of the Decision Review Officer

A Decision Review Officer has the power to decide all issues raised in a veteran’s Notice of Disagreement. A veteran’s appeal will remain in the Decision Review Officer’s authority until the issue is addressed by the Board of Veterans Appeals. The Decision Review Officer will perform a completely new review of a veteran’s claim without assigning any weight to a previous decision case.

It should be noted, however, that a Decision Review Officer is not able to overturn a favorable part of a previous decision unless a clear and unmistakable error occurred. Other powers held by a Decision Review Officer include the ability to coordinate the transfer of a veteran’s case to the Board of Veterans Appeals, directly contact a veteran or their representatives, evaluate a veteran’s file, hold informal conferences and hearings, hold a supervisory role in the training of rating specialists, and make decisions based on a veteran’s case.

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Favorable Reviews of a Decision Review Officer Hearing

There are three ways in which a Decision Review Officer Hearing can result in a favorable outcome for an individual. These outcomes include the following:

  • A Grant of Disability Benefits. Decision Review Officer Hearings can find that a veteran’s benefits were granted in error and that full benefits should be granted.

  • A Statement of the Case. After receiving a Statement of a Case which denies veteran disability benefits, veterans can submit a VA Form 9 (also known as an Appeal to Board of Veterans’ Appeals). This filing can greatly reduce the amount of a time that a veteran must wait to have a case heard by the Board of Veterans Appeals.

  • A Grant of Compensation and Pension Exam. Navigating this evaluation can result in an individual being declared disabled. As a result, if a veteran is determined to have a disability during this evaluation, the Veterans’ Affairs Office is likely to grant benefits.

Consult with a Seasoned Veterans Rights Attorney

If a veteran receives an unfavorable rating for a service-connected disability and requires assistance in handling the decision review officer hearings, it is a wise idea to consult with an experienced attorney who can help create the strongest case possible. The attorneys at Whitcomb, Selinsky, PC and its disability arm, Rocky Mountain Disability Law Group have helped many individuals with TDIU claims and other disability related issues. Consider contacting our downtown Denver office today at (303) 534-1958 or complete out our convenient online form.

Tags: Veterans Disability

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Joe Whitcomb

Joe Whitcomb

Joe Whitcomb is the founder and president of Whitcomb, Selinsky, PC (WSM). In addition, he manages the firm and heads up the Government Procurement and International Business Transactions Law sections. As a result of his military service as a U.S. Army Ranger and as a non-commissioned officer in the Air Force, he learned mission accomplishment. While serving in the Air Force, he earned his Bachelor’s in Social Sciences and a Master’s in International Relations. His Master’s emphasis was on National Security and International Political Economics. After his military career, Joe attended law school at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

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