Using a DRO Part I

When veterans apply for disability benefits, a lot of vets get completely or partially denied. When this happens vets can appeal the denial if they feel they are entitled to compensation for their service connected disability. There are two routes vets can take when appealing a denial.

The first step in the appeal process is to file a notice of disagreement (NOD) with the local VA office. After the NOD has been completed, the VA will notify the veteran of the options for the appeal. You may also choose what type of review you wish to have when you file the NOD. 

The first option is to use a hearing officer, which is the default choice. Vets can also choose to use a decision review officer (DRO).

Hearing Officer

The hearing officer will take the vets file and any documentation generated from the original decision. Then the officer will assess the decision and see if a change is warranted.  


The difference in using a decision review officer is that a DRO will look at each case “de novo.” This means the DRO will act as if this is the first time the case has been reviewed, giving no thought or consideration to the original ruling.

The DRO will review the vet’s file and may also schedule an informal meeting with the vet and or the vet’s representative if the DRO feels they need additional information or evidence not listed in the file.

A DRO is typically a senior technical expert and has authority to not only overturn denials, but can also change a disability rating.

If you are thinking about appealing a denial, using a VA benefits attorney can save you time and stress. An attorney can point you in the right direction and guide you through the appeals process. Jan Dils Attorneys at Law has a wealth of experience in VA benefits and can help you get the compensation you need.

For more information on using a DRO check back next week for part 2.


Fight 4 Vets