The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) recently announced the release of the 2021-2022 edition of its landmark Veterans Benefits Manual, the 30-year anniversary edition of the Manual. NVLSP created the manual in 1991.
“We are pleased to mark the 30th anniversary of our Veterans Benefits Manual and offer the 2021-2022 edition to assist all those who advocate on behalf of veterans more easily handle the complicated and developing laws and regulations governing the benefits to which our veterans are entitled,” said NVLSP Executive Director Paul Wright. “Every year we are meticulous in documenting the changes in veterans law, because we recognize the vital resource that the Veterans Benefits Manual represents for veterans advocates and attorneys who assist veterans who are unlawfully denied their benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Known as the “VA benefits Bible™,” the 2,200-page manual is updated annually and contains essential insight and analysis from practicing lawyers at NVLSP, a group of experts at the vanguard of veterans law. Importantly, every edition of the manual is designed as a stand-alone product, so there is no need to reference prior editions.
The 2021-2022 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 the recent editions of the manual has been about the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (AMA), which took effect on February 19, 2019. There is updated information in the 2021-2022 edition of the manual about how the new modernized review system has been operating in practice. Highlights of the other updates include advocacy essentials such as: • New advice for deciding which options to pursue to overcome BVA decisions denying legacy claims and claims subject to the new AMA system.
• Discussion of the recent changes to VA policies and procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• A new section about how the BVA conducts virtual hearings.
• Updated information about the duty to assist activities transferred from the Joint Services Records Research Center to the VA Military Records Research Center.
• New sections explaining why thousands of Vietnam veterans and their survivors are now entitled to millions of dollars in additional retroactive compensation for Agent Orange-related diseases.
• Discussion of the VA’s revisions to the disability rating schedule for musculoskeletal conditions.
• A new section discussing the enhanced hearing procedures adopted by the Army Discharge Review Board and the thousands of Army veterans now entitled to have the Board reconsider their less than Honorable Discharges under more liberal review standards.
• Advocacy tips for appealing BVA decisions that violate or improperly rely on provisions of the VA Adjudication Procedures Manual M21-1.
• Discussion of the recent case law on extra-schedular disability ratings and schedular ratings for ankylosis of joints.
• A new section about how military retirees become entitled to retroactive military retired pay as a direct result of a VA decision granting retroactive VA.
• Updated analysis of the rules governing entitlement to retroactive benefits based on service department records being added to the VA claims file after a final claim denial.
• New guidance regarding entitlement to accrued benefits to reimburse individuals who bore the expense of a veteran’s last illness or burial.
• Updates on eligibility for VA’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers and advocacy tips for those applying for monthly stipends.
The editors of this year’s manual are Co-Founder and Special Counsel Barton F. Stichman, former Joint Executive Director Ronald B. Abrams, Director of Training and Publications Richard V. Spataro, and Director of Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Litigation Stacy A. Tromble.