Federal Manager's Daily Report

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

recently ruled that the law requires the Department of

Veterans Affairs to provide a veteran seeking disability

benefits with notice if he submits insufficient evidence to substantiate a disability claim. The Veterans Claim

Assistance Act requires that the agency issue a statement

of what further evidence the vet needs for the VA to make a

disability determination, said the court.

The case arose when a veteran applied for disability

benefits based on a claim of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Board of Veterans Appeals found, on the evidence

submitted by the veteran, that he had not provided the board

with sufficient evidence to indicate that the veteran had

been exposed to a stressor capable of triggering the

disorder. However, the board didn’t tell the veteran what

further evidence the he needed to submit to provide the

board with enough evidence to make such a finding when it

denied the veteran disability benefits. The veteran appealed.

The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

reversed, finding that the board failed to provide the

veteran with the required notice. When the VA appealed, the

Federal Circuit held that under the Act, Congress did not

intend to exempt the department from the law’s requirements,

including the notice provision requiring the VA to inform

disability claimants of factual deficiencies in their

applications for disability benefits. The Federal Circuit

remanded the case to the Veterans Claims court for further

proceedings.

The full text of the decision can be found here: http://www.fedcir.gov/opinions/03-7072.doc