VA’s Duty to Address All Issues Raised by the Record — You Still May Need Help with a Veterans Disability Claim

The veteran’s claims processing system is set up to be easy for veterans to navigate. Unfortunately, the laws governing the VA benefits system are extremely complex, and veterans do not always know the right arguments to raise, or the right evidence to submit, in support of their claims. They often need help with a veterans disability claim. Recognizing this, the long-standing rule is that the VA, in processing a veteran’s claims, must address not only issues that are specifically raised by the veteran, but also any issue that is raised by the veteran’s records.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the veteran doesn’t have to be specific about what injury he would like to receive compensation for. VA rules do require that the veteran express an intent to file a claim for benefits for each injury for which he seeks compensation. It does mean, however, that the VA must carefully examine all possible roads which might lead to a grant of the benefit that the veteran seeks.

In practice, of course, the VA often overlooks possible theories upon which the veteran may be awarded benefits. Therefore, it is always within the veteran’s best interest to specifically advance any argument that he would like the VA to consider when processing his claim. And, just for the record, asking the VA to give “the benefit of the doubt” is not sufficient.

In any event, it isn’t great practice to rely on the VA to address issues not specifically raised. At the minimum, the significant delays present in the system, particularly on the appeals side, means that veterans should be putting themselves in a position where proper arguments are specifically raised each time their cases come up for review. It can take 18 months or more to get a new decision on appeal, and you don’t want to risk the adjudicator simply overlooking an important issue that is present in the record and should be addressed. In my view, clear written arguments which express the veteran’s position on all important issues (with citations to legal authority, particularly in arguments at the Board and Court levels) is crucial towards winning claims on appeal.

Do You Need Help with a Veterans Disability Claim?

If you need assistance — particularly with supporting your claim with citations to legal authority — a veterans’ disability advocate can help. As advocates who have decades of combined experience working specifically with VA claims and appeals, Veterans Help Group advocates know the right tools and information get VA benefits for our clients, and we have the passion to do so. We welcome you to contact us for a free case evaluation.

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