Veterans Benefits Manual


By Barton F. Stichman

cover image of Veterans Benefits Manual

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This exhaustive manual is an indispensable guide for advocates who help veterans and their families obtain benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

User-friendly, well-indexed, and packed with practical information, it includes sample forms and briefs, flowcharts, checklists, citations to legal authorities, and other documents designed to streamline the claims process and save you and your veteran client valuable time.

Written by practicing lawyers at the National Veterans Legal Services Program, this manual contains valuable insight and analysis from a team of experts on the front line of veterans law. Use their first-hand experience fighting for veterans' rights and their insider's view of the Department of Veterans Affairs to obtain the benefits your client earned.

The Veterans Benefits Manual contains dozens of effective, battle-tested advocacy tips for veterans and advocates along with all the latest developments in veterans law.

2018-2019 Edition Editors:

National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP)

Barton F. Stichman, Executive Director and co-founder of the National Veterans Legal Services Program

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

Amy F. Odom, Former Director of Litigation of the National Veterans Legal Services Program

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

New in the 2018-2019 Edition:

This completely revised edition of The Veterans Benefits Manual has been thoroughly updated to include important developments in veterans' law over the past year.

New highlights include advocacy essentials such as:

  • New chapter entitled "Chapter 13A – The New VA Appeals System Starting in 2019." This chapter is placed after Chapter 13, and it describes the major changes in the VA appeals process made by the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017. As Chapter 13A describes, some VA claimants can access the new system early by withdrawing their pending benefits appeal and opting into what the VA calls the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program or RAMP.
  • A Spring 2019 Supplement will be sent to purchasers of the 2018-2019 edition of this Manual. The Supplement will cover the VA's finalized regulations which implement the 2017 Act.
  • Two new sections covering the rules for assigning disability ratings for eye and respiratory disabilities (Sections 5.2.12 and 5.2.13)
  • A new section describing how a 2018 court decision opens the door to VA disability compensation for pain alone, without a formal medical diagnosis (Section
  • A new section discussing how veterans with disabilities related to radiation exposure may receive up to $75,000 in non-VA compensation from the U.S. Department of Justice (Section
  • How to effectively use the recent court decisions setting rules VA examiners must follow in providing medical opinions on the additional limitations of a joint during flare-ups and following repeated use over time (Sections and
  • A reorganized section addressing disability compensation for diseases associated with exposure to toxic substances other than Agent Orange and atomic radiation (Section 3.9)
  • A new section discussing recent court decisions ruling that the Board of Veterans' Appeals is not bound by the VA Adjudication Procedures Manual M21-1 and providing related advocacy advice (Section
  • Veterans Benefits Manual