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Veterans Benefits Manual

Practical guide with the critical information you need to navigate veterans benefits issues.

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Print Book :1 Volume, softbound, 2200 pages
2018-2019 Edition
ISBN: 9781522161394
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2018-2019 Edition
ISBN: 9781522161400
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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.
 
2018-2019 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
Amy F. Odom, Former Director of Litigation of the National Veterans Legal Services Program
Richard V. Spataro, Director of Training and Publications of the National Veterans Legal Services Program
 

New in the 2018-2019 Edition:
This completely revised edition of The Veterans Benefits Manual has been thoroughly updated to include important developments in veterans' law over the past year.

New highlights include advocacy essentials such as:
  • New chapter entitled "Chapter 13A – The New VA Appeals System Starting in 2019."  This chapter is placed after Chapter 13, and it describes the major changes in the VA appeals process made by the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017. As Chapter 13A describes, some VA claimants can access the new system early by withdrawing their pending benefits appeal and opting into what the VA calls the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program or RAMP;
  • A Spring 2019 Supplement will be sent to purchasers of the 2018-2019 edition of this Manual. The Supplement will cover the VA's finalized regulations which implement the 2017 Act;
  • Two new sections covering the rules for assigning disability ratings for eye and respiratory disabilities (Sections 5.2.12 and 5.2.13);
  • A new section describing how a 2018 court decision opens the door to VA disability compensation for pain alone, without a formal medical diagnosis (Section 3.2.1.1);
  • A new section discussing how veterans with disabilities related to radiation exposure may receive up to $75,000 in non-VA compensation from the U.S. Department of Justice (Section 3.4.6.5.1);
  • How to effectively use the recent court decisions setting rules VA examiners must follow in providing medical opinions on the additional limitations of a joint during flare-ups and following repeated use over time (Sections 5.2.1.6 and 17.16.2.2);
  • A reorganized section addressing disability compensation for diseases associated with exposure to toxic substances other than Agent Orange and atomic radiation (Section 3.9);
  • A new section discussing recent court decisions ruling that the Board of Veterans' Appeals is not bound by the VA Adjudication Procedures Manual M21-1 and providing related advocacy advice (Section 13.9.1.4);
  • Information about the new interactive decision template used by the Board of Veterans' Appeals to draft decisions (Section 13.2.3);
  • Information about NVLSP’s "VA Benefit Identifier," a new tool that helps advocates determine what benefits a veteran should apply for (Section 17.5.3);
  • An overview and new Advocacy Tips about how the VA is required to handle claims for an increased disability rating for PTSD where there are GAF scores and DSM-5 is applicable (Sections 5.2.2 and 14.5.12);
  • A new section about the requirements that must be met before the Board of Veterans' Appeals can validly find that a claimant withdrew the appeal of a claim (Section 13.9.3.6);
  • Updated information about how to request a copy of a VA claims file (Section 16.2.2; Appendix 16-A).

Authors / Contributors

Table of Contents

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  Compensation for Injury or Death Caused By VA Health Care or Other VA Activities
Chapter 5  Setting, Increasing, or Reducing a Veterans' Service-Connected Disability Rating
Chapter 6  Pension For Veterans with Non-Service-Connected Disabilities

PART II  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 Original and Reopened Claims By VA Regional Offices
Chapter 13  Board Of Veterans' Appeals
Chapter 13A  The New VA Appeals System Starting in 2019
Chapter 14  Common Errors In Final VA Decisions Denying Benefits And the Avenues Available To Correct Them
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

GLOSSARY TABLE OF CASES
FORMS APPENDIX
INDEX