Veterans Benefits Manual
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This exhaustive manual is an indispensable guide for advocates who help veterans and their families obtain benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
User-friendly, well-indexed, and packed with practical information, it includes sample forms and briefs, flowcharts, checklists, citations to legal authorities, and other documents designed to streamline the claims process and save you and your veteran client valuable time.
Written by practicing lawyers at the National Veterans Legal Services Program, this manual contains valuable insight and analysis from a team of experts on the front line of veterans law. Use their first-hand experience fighting for veterans' rights and their insider's view of the Department of Veterans Affairs to obtain the benefits your client earned.
The Veterans Benefits Manual contains dozens of effective, battle-tested advocacy tips for veterans and advocates along with all the latest developments in veterans law.
2020-2021 Edition Editors:
National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP)
Barton F. Stichman, Executive Director and co-founder of the National Veterans Legal Services Program
Ronald B. Abrams, Special Counsel and Former Joint Executive Director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program
Richard V. Spataro, Director of Training and Publications of the National Veterans Legal Services Program
Stacy A. Tromble, Director of Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Litigation of the National Veterans Legal Services Program
The 2020-2021 Edition of the Veterans Benefits Manual has been thoroughly updated with the important developments in veterans law over the past year. Highlights of these updates include advocacy essentials such as:
- A new section about how to find out the status of a VA claim (Section 12.5.7);
- A new section on how to avoid losing months of retroactive disability compensation when you aren’t sure whether you should file an initial claim form or supplemental claim form (Section 12.2.4);
- Tips for the use of Disability Benefits Questionnaires following the VA's removal of these forms from VA's Website (Sections 12.5.5 and 220.127.116.11);
- Information about the VA's new Appeals and Reviews Manual, M21-5 (Section 12.1.3, and throughout Chapter 12);
- Information about changes to VA policy and procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic (throughout);
- A new section explaining the effective date rules for Blue Water Vietnam Veterans and their survivors for claims for service connection for a particular Agent Orange-related disease (Section 8.11);
- A new section about the strong evidence that currently exists that veterans who served in Guam between 1962 and 1975 were exposed to toxic herbicides like Agent Orange (Section 18.104.22.168.2.2);
- Updated advice on what a claimant must do to challenge a particular VA medical examination report or opinion because the examiner was not competent to analyze the medical issues (Sections 3.2.1 and 22.214.171.124);
- A discussion of the Veteran Apprenticeship and Labor Opportunity Reform (VALOR) Act and its implications for veterans who seek to use their Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits to pursue on-the-job training and apprenticeship program (Section 126.96.36.199);
- Discussion of the VA's proposed changes for rating cardiovascular conditions by eliminating ejection fraction and congestive heart failure as indicators, in favor of METs testing (Section 5.2.7);
- A detailed description of a significant new class action ruling in favor of veterans who seek reimbursement of emergency medical expenses incurred in non-VA facilities (Section 10.18.2); and
- All new guidance about reviewing the Record Before the Agency in an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Chapter 16)
The 2019-2020 Edition ISBN is 9781522184416.
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Table of contents
Chapter 1 Introduction And How to Use This Manual
PART I DISABILITY BENEFITS FOR VETERANS
Chapter 2 Veterans' Basic Eligibility For VA Benefits
Chapter 3 Compensation for Veterans with Service-Connected Disabilities
Chapter 4 VA Disability Benefits or Damages for Injury or Death Caused by VA Health
Care or Other VA Activities
Chapter 5 Setting, Increasing, or Reducing a Veterans' Service-Connected Disability
Chapter 6 Pension For Veterans with Non-Service-Connected Disabilities
PART II VA BENEFITS FOR NON-VETERANS
Chapter 7 VA Benefits For Family Members
PART III RULES AFFECTING THE AMOUNT OF BENEFITS PAID
Chapter 8 Effective Dates For Awards of Benefits
Chapter 9 Special Issues For Disability And Death Benefits
PART IV VA HEALTH CARE AND OTHER BENEFITS
Chapter 10 VA Health Care
Chapter 11 Other VA Benefits
PART V THE VA CLAIMS ADJUDICATION PROCESS
Chapter 12 Adjudication of Legacy and Modernized Claims by VA Regional Offices
Chapter 13 Board Of Veterans' Appeals
Chapter 14 Avenues Available to Correct Errors in Final BVA Decisions and Common
Errors Appealable to the Court
Chapter 15 Court Review of VA Decision-Making
PART VI ADVOCACY ON BEHALF OF VA CLAIMANTS
Chapter 16 Reviewing VA Claims Files
Chapter 17 Effective Advocacy Before the VA
Chapter 18 Obtaining Military Records And Information To Help Substantiate A Claim
Chapter 19 Attorney's and Agent's Fees Paid By VA Claimants Or By The VA
PART VII CORRECTION OF MILITARY RECORDS
Chapter 20 Military Records Correction Issues And Military Disability Benefits
Chapter 21 Upgrading Less Than Fully Honorable Discharges
TABLE OF CASES