What is the VA's Duty to Assist?
When a Veteran files a substantially complete application for VA disability compensation, the VA has a duty to assist the veteran with obtaining evidence to substantiate the claim before making a decision on the claim. The VA is charged with granting every benefit supported by law. The VA's duty to assist in the development of evidence includes attempting to secure evidence from the VA itself, other federal agencies, and private entities. Some examples of the types of evidence which can be covered under the VA's Duty to Assist are as follows:
- VA medical records;
- Service medical records;
- Social Security Administration records;
- Evidence from other federal agencies;
- State and local government records;
- Lay evidence from a third party;
- Private medical records; and
- Current or former employer records.
In addition to assisting the Veteran with securing evidence needed to support the filed claim, the VA is also charged with providing the Veteran with an examination and/or a medical opinion if either is deemed necessary to make a decision on a claim for disability compensation.
Of course, there are other situations in which the VA will not provide assistance. The VA will not provide assistance or will discontinue providing assistance in obtaining evidence if a substantially complete application for benefits indicates that there is no reasonable possibility that any assistance the VA would provide to the veteran would substantiate the claim. Some common situations include, but are not limited to:
- the claimant's ineligibility for the benefit sought because of lack of qualifying service, lack of veteran status, or other lack of legal eligibility;
- claims that are inherently incredible or clearly lack merit; and
- an application requesting a benefit to which the claimant is not entitled as a matter of law.
If you are a veteran who has filed for VA disability benefits and needs help navigating the appeal process, call the experienced veterans' disability attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. at 251-343-1111 today for a free case evaluation. The disability attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. help veterans throughout the Gulf Coast area, including, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana with regard to establishing service connection for claimed conditions, establishing entitlement to higher compensation ratings, and establishing entitlement to individual unemployability.