The current VA manual that is used by VA employees is M21-IMR ( the manual rewrite ). This manual contains instructions to follow when VA employees receive claims, develop for evidence, and make disability compensation decisions. The VA has an obligation to assist with claims, to obtain evidence, and to make reasonable efforts to obtain records, including federal records under the Veteran Claims Assistance Act (VCAA).The VA should make every reasonable effort to request all evidence needed to decide claims and to obtain federal records. M21-IMR – Part III, Subpart iii, Chapter 1, Section A To obtain evidence and to verify service information of the author of a “ buddy statement “ a Personnel Information Exchange System (PIES) request should be submitted by use of entry 3101. M21-IMR – Part II, Subpart iii, Chapter 2, Section E If the VA denies a claim that is supported by significant favorable evidence, the VA must discuss the value of the evidence and the benefit-of-the-doubt rule. The VA has a heightened obligation to carefully consider the benefit-of-the-doubt rule and corroborative testimony when military records may have been destroyed; and, the VA must explain why the evidence was not credible or could not be ccepted in cases where service connection cannot be awarded based on corroborative testimony. M21-IMR – Part IV, Subpart ii, 2.A.2.
Written by Andrew Finkelstein | Last Updated: June 17, 2021