What is the VA’s Duty to a Veteran?

The VA has a duty to assist a veteran with the VA disability claim process. The Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000 (VCAA) details the VA’s duties to assist veterans with benefits claims. The VA has a duty under 38 U.S.C.S. § 7104(a) to consider all possible claims for compensation that are raised by the medical evidence in your record. This means that even if you don’t claim a specific disability, such as hearing loss, if there is medical evidence in your file about hearing problems and exposure to loud noise during service, the VA has a duty to evaluate whether you are entitled to compensation for hearing loss.

For this duty to arise, there must be some reasonable evidence in your file about the disability and about some incident in service that may have caused it. Likewise, if your doctor has stated that you are unable to perform any work at all, and this statement is written in your records (not just verbally stated to you), the VA is required to evaluate whether you are entitled to a 100% disability rating based on Total Disability for Individual Unemployability (TDIU). If the VA does not do so, this can be grounds for an appeal.

If you submit an application for disability benefits that is largely complete, you are entitled to receive a notification from the VA about any evidence that is needed to prove your medical condition is a service-connected disability, in addition to what you already submitted. Also, the VA must be very clear in this notification about the records the agency will seek to obtain on your behalf and the records you must try to get on your own. The VA is obligated to help gather needed evidence to prove your claim unless there is almost no chance at all that your claim is legitimate. What this means is that in most cases, the VA has a duty to make efforts to obtain records for you.

The Vet Defender can help you develop the evidence you need to win. To schedule an appointment click this link: Schedule an Appointment.