Veterans Benefits Manual

ebook Cases contained within eBook · Veterans Benefits Manual (2023-2024)

By Barton F. Stichman

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2023-2024 Edition Editors:

Barton F. Stichman, Special Counsel to and co-founder of the National Veterans Legal Services Program

Ronald B. Abrams, Special Counsel to and Former Joint Executive Director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program

Richard V. Spataro, Director of Training and Publications of the National Veterans Legal Services Program

Stacy A. Tromble, Director of Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Litigation of the National Veterans Legal Services Program

Rochelle Bobroff, Director of Pro Bono at the National Veterans Legal Services Program, supervising the Lawyers Serving Warriors® program.

The 2023-2024 edition of the Veterans Benefits Manual has been thoroughly updated with the important developments in veterans law over the past year. The most significant new information in this edition of the Manual involves the numerous changes in law made by the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022—one of the greatest expansions of veterans benefits in U.S. history. The parts of the Manual explaining the changes made by the PACT Act include:

  • The service locations in Southwest Asia, Afghanistan, and Africa that now entitle veterans to the presumption of exposure to toxic substances (Sections and;
  • The more than 20 diseases and medical conditions that now qualify for presumptive service connection due to exposure to toxic substances, such as fumes from burn pits (Section;
  • The new service locations outside Vietnam and the Korean DMZ that entitle veterans to the presumption of exposure to herbicides containing dioxin (Sections and 3.8.1);
  • The two additional diseases that now qualify for presumptive service connection due to Agent Orange exposure (Sections, 3.8.3, and 3.8.4);
  • Additional radiation-risk activities that qualify veterans for presumptive service connection for radiogenic diseases (Section;
  • The newly available monetary benefits for children born with spina bifida to a veteran exposed to herbicides outside of Vietnam (Section 7.7.2);
    • The greatly expanded groups of veterans that now qualify for enhanced eligibility status for enrollment in the VA health care system (Sections 10.2.1 and 10.5.2); and
    • A new section explaining the non-VA process that veterans and survivors can now use to obtain monetary damages for illnesses caused by contaminated water at Camp LeJeune (Section

    In addition to information about the PACT Act, highlights of the other updates to the 2023-2024 edition of this Manual include advocacy essentials such as:

  • How the modernized review system created by the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (AMA), which took effect on February 19, 2019, has been operating in practice (Chapters 12, 13, and 16);
  • Advocacy tips on how to obtain an effective date earlier than August 10, 2022, for an award of benefits for a medical condition presumed to be caused by toxic exposure under the PACT Act (Section;
  • Advocacy tips on how to use the PACT Act's presumption of toxic exposure to obtain a favorable medical opinion connecting such exposure to non-presumptive conditions (Section;
  • Advocacy tips on using the Claims Accuracy Request ("CAR") program to overturn a Regional Office decision when there are clear errors of fact or law (Sections and;
  • Advocacy tips for filing a successful claim for service connection for an undiagnosed illness on behalf of a veteran of the Persian Gulf War (Sections and 3.7.2);
  • Discussion of the 2023 Federal Circuit decision that invalidates th...
  • Veterans Benefits Manual