The benefit of doubt rule favors Veterans and their claims for benefits. If you are unfamiliar, here is the rule:
When there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence regarding any issue material to the determination of a matter, the Secretary shall give the benefit of the doubt to the claimant.“
This means when the evidence is 50/50, the VA is supposed to favor the Veteran. However, not knowing this rule or failing to address is an issue for many Vets.
Doubt Impacted by Evidence
A second issue presented by 38 § US Code 5107 is the issue of responsibility. Yes, the benefit of doubt rule can positively impact veterans and their families if they [the veteran] present supporting evidence.
This means Veterans have the duty to find and submit evidence. For those familiar with Veteran Claims and benefits, the VA’s duty to assist a claimant under statute 38 § US 5103A is, unfortunately, suppressed.
Veterans With Unequal Doubts
Just so we are clear, the benefit of doubt rule is not the same as doubting the VA. If anything, allow for your doubt in the VA process inspire even more attention to evidence for your VA claim.
Yes, Veterans and their families can do a lot of good for their claim by turning it into a game. The game is simple. Can you create and seek? Here are a few ways Vets can add value to their claims:
- Starting at square one, always acquire a certified copy of your DD 214,
- Make formal written requests for subpoenas of a person or people,
- Ask the VA to seek a subpoena duces tecum,
- Seek layperson testimonials from friends and family
- Give exams of functional impairments and include photos to tell your story,
- Gather blog posts, social media statements, and newspaper articles of past military events, or
- Starting a record when there isn’t a record.
If you try hard enough, the list of options is endless.
Benefit of Doubt
In my experience, presenting supporting evidence starts with small factual nuggets. And, unlike bitcoin, showing anything tangible is the first step. Whether this means putting pen to paper or some other means, Veterans have the power to take back control of their claim.