I recently called the VA and inquired about my appeal for depression which has been in the appeal process since Dec 6, 2006. Sixteen months has passed thus far and they(VA) has informed me that the DRO has once again received my information nessesary to provide a decision. This will be the 3rd time having a DRO review my information. This time, however , I provided new information that I hope will help prove my case. After doing some research on the issue, I decided to switched from having a BVA hearing to the DRO decision process. Was that a good idea?
Also, how long will it take to have the DRO provide a decision? Will I have to wait an additional 16 months?
As some of you guys know, I was seen by a certified Nurse while in the Navy and was told to seek counseling for "extreme stress and depression". However, I did not due to the fact that I was being discharge within 2 months and simply because I WAS DEPRESS and kept to myself and thought that they, whoever they would have been, could not help me. Lastly, I began medication within the year that the VA always use to deny those that apply. And I have been on the medication for about 5 to 6 years straight. I decided to get off medication due to the fact that I could not think right, memory lost and a host of other side effects. So far, even though I am still sort of depress half the time, things are going good.
Is there a correlation between Chronic Fatigue and Depression. I told my VA doctor about 5 years ago, that a person my age about 25 at the time could hardly run a mile without being totally exhausted, even though I am not fat, ate fairly good, and always exercised. To this day I am still experiencing Chronic fatigue.
Also, if my memory is correct(I think medication/depression or some other thing is messing with my memory)I had tests performed, which included testing my thyroid, testing for anemia, etc. Everything came back O.K. Yet, I was and have been experiencing pain throughout my body and fatigue. All this is documented.
Thanks........... Peace!!This message has been edited. Last edited by: Camaromaster,
I don't know anything about the VA process, but I'm sure someone here will. In the mean time, you may want to check out CDCs Chronic Fatigue Syndrome website:
Camaromaster, I'll pick up on the VA question regarding VBA or DRO de Nova Review.
Once a claim is sent to the VBA it's assigned a Docket Number, and when it's # comes up, the judge reviews the case. If there is something that is either questionable or perhaps missing, the judge may remand the case back to the VARO for further development and have it either adjudicated based upon VBA guidelines, or the VARO may simply be directed to have it returned to the VBA for further review and a possible final decision. (Could be a lengthy process.)
As you may know with the Decision Review Officer (DRO) de Nova Review, he/she will review each document in your claims folder to ensure all is in order. If the DRO questions your current medical condition today, he/she may order a Compensation & Pension Exam (C&P). The DRO is located within your local VARO, or the VARO having jurisdiction with your claim. You can even request a personal hearing with your POA and the DRO within your VARO. They do have the authority to reverse the previous decision, whether it be based on new and material evidence in the case or perhaps what may be deemed as clear and unmistakable error (CUE) or they may simply concur with the previous findings. Either way the DRO will send out a Supplemental Statement of the Case. Review it carefully, it may tell you what's missing. Then the next step, of course, would be the VA Form 9 electing VBA Hearing.
It's the veterans personal call, based on the avenue of appeal, but many times the DRO de Nova review can be much quicker than a VBA appeal, even when you elect a video teleconference at your local VARO, or a traveling VBA Board at your VARO, or to simply have the VBA adjudicate your claim.
A thorough investigation of the Denial Letter references more times than not will tell you exactly what you need to have your claim awarded. If you have problems interpreting the references email me at email@example.com Ed
Ed thanks for the help. This is a topic beyond my knowledge. I appreciate your continued assistance to our fellow veterans.
Thanks for the information HEBall.
DRO the Decision Review Officer is part of the claims process, before you enter into the claim being certified to the BVA Board of Veterans Appeals. The DRO step is optional, you may waive this step and go to traditional appeal. In my opinion the DRO step is another opportunity to win your claim without the two year and often more wait to get the appeals hearing. Appeals are hard to win. Every tool provided should be considered.
This is an area where you need a VSO supporting you.
I had to perform a 007 tactic, to get some clarity on my appeal, so I called the VA again today three times. And on each occasion I got a different story.
One told me that the DRO had not received it as yet.(Just the week before one said that the DRO had received in march.)
The other provided me with the telephone number to the appeal management office because he could not locate it in his computer.
And the other said that my appeal is in between (going back and forth) the DRO and some other office(can't recall). I guess the new information that I provided was causing this.
(The calls were made in the order as described.)
It's really is a shame that veterans have to wait 3 to 4 years or longer for an appeal. The veteran administration can't hide their true intentions when they deny your meritorious claim. From my observation, their goal is to wait you out in hopes that you either give up or DIE. SHAMEFUL!
I think that the current law suit that some Veterans groups have against the VA may force the agency and Congress to live up to its commitments and resolve claims in a timely and fair fashion.
I would consider a new claim filed by someone discharged or retired from the military due to medical issues or combat injuries to be fairly resolved if adjudicated within 3-4 months and with a appropriate decision. I define the later as one that properly reflects the reasonably claimed and documented disabilities at the level that matches there disabling descriptors in the VA CFR and Manuals.
When it comes to old claims 6 - 12 months after filing and proper documentation is provided. Old claims are much harder is there has not being ongoing treatment for a medical event that happened during military service and is documented in a service record.
Appeals should be heard in a much more timely fashion. I would love to see a DRO De Novo within 90 days of a NOD, and a BVA hearing withing 6 to 9 months.
Changing the law to require this or that the claim is approved temporarily as filed would move some back ends forward. Then they are the appealing party and not the vet.
Me too, however I doubt that will happen in my lifetime. It has never been that timely in the thirty plus years I have been involved in the system.
You can request a DRO Hearing on top of a De Novo Review, right? DRO Hearing is not a BVA Hearing, but is a face-to-face meeting with your the "new" rating official at the VARO, right?
Thats what I want to do..... win it locally without having to go to the BVA or CAVC.
COMMENTS, please ?
You can request a DRO hearing. The DRO will be a person who can change the decision without going to the BVA. I suggest you do either an in-person or video hearing, rather just a paper review.
Yep... as the saying goes, "little effort, little results". The DRO Hearing may be at the VARO facility with the new Rating Official. But, you must be organized and ready with evidence that rebuts the Statement of the Case. You must argue the Benefit of the Doubt provision when there is evidence in your favor but the original Rating Decision didn't apply the Benefit of the Doubt.
Prior to the DRO Hearing, rehearse your "pitch" with your VSO. Two heads are better than one.
Thats what its all about in a nutshell.
I think you might be missing the totality of the rule, so here is an exert from a BVA decision applying the rule:
The benefit of the doubt rule is a unique standard that is applicable to claims before the VA. In essence, the rule provides that, where there is an approximate balance of
positive and negative evidence regarding the merits of an issue material to the determination of the matter, the benefit of the doubt in resolving the issue shall be given to the claimant. 38 U.S.C.A. § 5107(b). In determining whether the statutory right to the benefit of the doubt applies, a determination as to the balance of all the evidence must be made. The benefit of the doubt rule only applies if it is found that the evidence is in equipoise. Gilbert v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 61 (1991).
And be aware that the Court of Veterans Appeals has consistently failed to uphold this standard in their decisions, even when Congress has changed the law to require such consideration.
"COURT OF APPEALS FOR VETERANS CLAIMS
The Congressional mandate that VA claimants receive the benefit of the doubt in appropriate cases is the cornerstone of veterans' benefits derived from military service. Yet, the Court has ignored the intent of Congress by creating a judicial roadblock that completely isolates claimants from their statutory right to the benefit of the doubt.
Title 38, United States Code, section 5107(b) grants claimants the benefit of the doubt as a matter of law with respect to any benefit under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Secretary) when there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence regarding any issue material to the determination of a matter. Yet, the Court has been affirming any BVA denial when the record contains only minimal evidence necessary to show a "plausible basis" for such finding. This renders a claimant's statutory right to the benefit of the doubt futile because claims can be denied and the denial upheld when supported by far less than a preponderance of the evidence. "
Why does it take so God Damn long for appeals? Ahhhhh!! Veterans are like helpless little children when it comes to the VA. Totally helpless. I feel totally helpless...
I have become convinced that it is part of the process, designed to delay and therefore deny justice.
In the Houston RO for example, they can fiddle for a year or more to make a simple decision that should have taken a few minutes, but when denied, their own statement claims it will take them FIVE YEARS to just tell you why they disapproved your claim (SOC)! You would think they would know why they denied it when the denial was made! Then after they finally tell you WHY they denied it, you have a set in concrete 60 days to challenge their denial. The number of vets that die during this process is great, and the savings of money is also great, maybe the real reason for the delays.
A good example is my currently pending case. I was hospitalized and had a heart cath in early November, which determined that I needed a pacemaker/defibrillator implanted NOW. This alone changes my 30% coronary artery disease service connected disability to a 100% one. I submitted the hospital records, cardiologists notes etc in full with the claim, simple 5 minute tops determination. It has been SIX MONTHS since that was submitted, nary a word on the approval. Why? I think it is in some pile that justifies someones job.
I have a NOD in the system and have received a letter stating they have my request for A DRO and explaining how it is supposed to work. That letter was dated April 26th. My question is I also have 3 other claims in the system, will they complete these claims or will they wait until the NOD is completed and send me the results all at once. I haven't had a C & P yet on the 3 other claims. Sgt D
If you disagree with the Rating Decision...:
1) you can request a De Novo Review - another rating official will pass the 2nd judgement on your claim w/no in-person apperance with a VA official.
2) you can request a DRO Hearing - thats a face-to-face hearing with another rating official at the VARO office. You MUST have your facts straight to be able to argue the falisies of the Reason and Basis in your Rating Decision Letter. KEY.
If that doesn't give your benefits, you can file a VAF-9, official appeal to the Board of Veteran's Appeals (BVA).
As far as #1 and 2, above, actually you can have BOTH... if timed properly.... but it will most likely be the same different rating official. I strongly suggest this course of action.... before you go formal with a VAF-9.
WIN before you go to the BVA.
Dave B, I was denied two times on a claim for my thyroid cancer, I spoke to my VSO today and I requested a DRO, but she said that I already had a DRO review and I would need to request a review from the BVA, I never request a DRO
It may be that your claim went before a DRO without your knowledge, VA sometimes will do that procedure. I suggest you request an in person, or video DRO hearing. It may be a matter of terminology.
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