VA Benefits

questions & answers

Question: I applied for my service connected disability benefits in Aug of 2010, I received 70% sc Aug of 2012, but IU denied. Requested DRO, denied! see the travel board on July 23rd, asked for time frame, told I can expect her decision in 1-2 YEARS! I have tons of proof in my file that I'm unemployable. My questions are: 1)Do I have any recourse, or can she really make me wait for another year or 2? 2)I am currently on SSI (unemployable) incompetent for VA purposes (UE)eligible but not viable for VA Voc Rehab (UE)is there anything that can be done to require them to pay me benefits I deserve?

Answer: Based on the information in your question it is unclear whether the Decision Review Officer (“DRO”) process itself was denied or you went through the DRO process and benefits were denied. If you have received the Notice of Disagreement (“NOD”) form denying veteran’s benefits there are two paths you can take to appeal that decision.  You can apply for a review/ appeal under the local DRO process or appeal through the Bureau of Veterans’ Affairs (“BVA”) process. Generally, the DRO process has a shorter timeframe for completion because, the DRO is usually an experienced claims person, accustomed to dealing with benefit denials. Because the DRO reviews the case from the beginning, he or she is not bound by any previous decisions and has the power to issue a binding ruling on your case. If you chose the BVA path to an appeal, the process generally takes longer because there is an average 1-2 year waiting period for a hearing. The BVA can issue binding rulings in your case too.

If you started out with the DRO process and a hearing with the DRO person was denied, you may want to call the officer and request the “Statement of the Case,” which should indicate why the appeals process was denied. If the DRO denied your claim for benefits, the BVA process is still available to you. Veteran’s benefits include both financial and rehabilitative services. Therefore, your case would be examined for eligibility for both. Additionally, there are many required forms that must be filed within certain dates/ timeframes for the BVA to continue your appeals process. Therefore, it is important to understand what step in the process you are at and how much time you have to file those forms. You may want to consult an attorney for further details and possible representation in this matter. The Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education may be able to help you locate an attorney for a reduced rate or an attorney that offers pro bono (free) services depending on your familial circumstances and income. Additional information is available on the Veterans’ Affairs website including a checklist of the entire process. http://www.military.com/benefits/military-legal-matters/va-claims-appeals-process/the-appeals-process-step-1.html

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QUESTIONS

  • I applied for my service connected disability benefits in Aug of 2010, I received 70% sc Aug of 2012, but IU denied. Requested DRO, denied! see the travel board on July 23rd, asked for time frame, told I can expect her decision in 1-2 YEARS! I have tons of proof in my file that I'm unemployable. My questions are: 1)Do I have any recourse, or can she really make me wait for another year or 2? 2)I am currently on SSI (unemployable) incompetent for VA purposes (UE)eligible but not viable for VA Voc Rehab (UE)is there anything that can be done to require them to pay me benefits I deserve?

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