Can you imagine if, before you started a battle, you were able to get access to the enemy’s plans, processes and procedures?
Give me 3 hours to study the enemy’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) and I will wreak havoc and wear them out from behind their own lines.
Using another metaphor…
….do you think that ANY team that LOST the Superbowl would like to go back in time and replay the game – AFTER seeing their Opponent’s playbook?
VA Manual M21-1MR is the VAs “Playbook”.
It is broken down into 11 parts:
Part 1: VA Claimant’s Rights and Responsibilities.
Part 2: This has been replaced by t he VA Benefits Assistance Service Procedures Manual, M27-1.
Part 3: General Claims Process, including the following topics:
Claims Processing Improvement Model
Initial Screening and Determining Veterans Status
General Development and Dependency Issues
General Rating Process
General Authorization Issues and Claimant Notifications
Special Authorization Issues
Part 4: Compensation, DIC, and Death Compensation Benefits
Part 5: Pension and Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Part 6: Chapter 18 Benefits
Part 7: Burial Benefits
Part 8: Accrued Benefits
Part 9: Ancillary and Special Benefits
Part 10: Matching Programs
How do you use VA Manual M21-1MR to your advantage?
#1: Get a copy of your VA C-File.
The C-File is the most important document in your VA Claim. I don’t know how any Veteran fighting a long battle with the VA can possibly win without knowing what is – and what is not – in the C-File.
#2: Figure out why the VA Keeps Screwing Up Your Claim.
#3: Once you know what PART of your claim is the problem, go to the section of the VA Manual M21-1MR that pertains to the particular problem you are having.
#4: Use the VAs own Standard Procedures in VA Manual M21-1MR to fix the problem.
Where do you find the VA Manual M21-1MR? For now, you have to get it chapter by chapter on the VA website.
I am working with a Web Coder to see if we can’t build a more accessible version of the VA Manual M21-1MR for Veterans.
We’ve built a version for attorneys to use: it’s an annual subscription that costs $200 per year. That’s too expensive for nearly every Veteran. So I’m working with this same company to provide an option that allows Veterans to subscribe on a monthly basis for as long as they need it during their claim.
Let’s take a look at an example of how to use VA Manual M21-1MR.
Here’s a hypothetical:
You are a Veteran with asbestosis.
(Asbestosis is a condition that results from inhaling the fibers of which asbestos is made. It can cause many types of cancer, lung diseases like emphysema, vascular problems, and much more.)
You claim service connection of asbestosis and emphysema as a result of your exposure to asbestos on the USS Columbus during the Korean War. The VA – for years and years – denies your claim for service connection and you don’t understand why.
After you get a copy of your C-File from the VA, you discover a note in your C-File (where it came from is anyone’s guess) that says that you were exposed to asbestos AFTER your military service while you worked as a contractor at the Naval Shipyards in DC.
Problem is, you never worked at that Naval Shipyard.
Let’s solve the Problem using the enemy’s playbook!
Go to VA Manual M21-1MR and put a nail in the coffin of VA excuses for denying your claim. Here is a small snippet of what the VA needs to “develop” your asbestos claim…using the above facts, see if you can figure out what to do after reading the snippet below
Solve the Problem: Turn this list from VA Manual M21-1MR into a checklist of things to prove.
You don’t have to DISprove anything in a VA Claim, but if you can, consider doing that.
It gets really hard for the VA to raise the mercury level in the VA Claims Evidence Thermometer high enough to deny your claim if your file has 5-Star Evidence that disproves everything the VA is trying to “prove”.
Think about that for a little bit.
This may not be the best course in every case – we don’t want to send the VA a haystack of evidence and then tell them to find the needle.
We are trying to show them – in the most clear terms possible – the needle.
Using the above snippet from VA Manual M21-1MR, you can:
Get proof of your exposure to asbestos while in the Navy – though this manual says that they are looking for service records, you are NOT bound by YOUR service records. Know another veteran that ser.
Get proof – through Sworn Declarations or other 5-star evidence – that you were not exposed to asbestos before or after service.
Get proof – through a competent medical examiner – that your asbestos was at least as likely as not related to your military service on the USS .