38 CFR 21.33 - VA has a duty to assist claimants in obtaining evidence.

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§ 21.33 VA has a duty to assist claimants in obtaining evidence.
The provisions of this section apply to claims that are governed by this subpart or subpart M of this part.
(a) VA's duty to assist begins when VA receives a complete or substantially complete application.
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, upon receipt of a complete or substantially complete application for vocational rehabilitation benefits and services under this subpart or subpart M of this part, VA will:
(i) Make reasonable efforts to help a claimant obtain evidence necessary to substantiate the claim; and
(ii) Give the assistance described in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section to an individual attempting to reopen a finally decided claim.
(2) VA will not pay any fees a custodian of records may charge to provide the records VA requests.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 5103A)
(b) Obtaining records not in the custody of a Federal department or agency.
(1) VA will make reasonable efforts to obtain relevant records not in the custody of a Federal department or agency. These records include relevant records from:
(i) State or local governments;
(ii) Private medical care providers;
(iii) Current or former employers; and
(iv) Other non-Federal governmental sources.
(2) The reasonable efforts described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section will generally consist of an initial request for the records and, if VA does not receive the records, at least one follow-up request. The following are exceptions to this provision concerning the number of requests that VA generally will make:
(i) VA will not make a follow-up request if a response to the initial request indicates that the records sought do not exist or that a follow-up request for the records would be futile.
(ii) If VA receives information showing that subsequent requests to this or another custodian could result in obtaining the records sought, reasonable efforts will include an initial request and, if VA does not receive the records, at least one follow-up request to the new source or an additional request to the original source.
(3) The claimant must cooperate fully with VA's reasonable efforts to obtain relevant records from non-Federal agency or department custodians. The claimant must provide enough information to identify and locate the existing records, including:
(i) The person, company, agency, or other custodian holding the records;
(ii) The approximate time frame covered by the records; and
(iii) In the case of medical treatment records, the condition for which treatment was provided.
(4) If necessary, the claimant must authorize the release of existing records in a form acceptable to the person, company, agency, or other custodian holding the records.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 5103A)
(c) Obtaining records in the custody of a Federal department or agency.
(1) Subject to paragraphs (c)(2) through (c)(4) of this section, VA will make as many requests as are necessary to obtain relevant records from a Federal department or agency. These records include but are not limited to:
(i) Military records;
(ii) Medical and other records from VA medical facilities;
(iii) Records from non-VA facilities providing examination or treatment at VA expense; and
(iv) Records from other Federal agencies.
(2) VA will cease its efforts to obtain records from a Federal department or agency only if VA concludes that the records sought do not exist or that further efforts to obtain those records would be futile. Cases in which VA may conclude that no further efforts are required include cases in which the Federal department or agency advises VA that the requested records do not exist or that the custodian of such records does not have them.
(3) The claimant must cooperate fully with VA's reasonable efforts to obtain relevant records from Federal department or agency custodians. At VA's request, the claimant must provide enough information to identify and locate the existing records, including:
(i) The custodian or agency holding the records;
(ii) The approximate time frame covered by the records; and
(iii) In the case of medical treatment records, the condition for which treatment was provided.
(4) If necessary, the claimant must authorize the release of existing records in a form acceptable to the custodian or agency holding the records.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 5103A)
(d) Circumstances where VA will refrain from or discontinue providing assistance. VA will refrain from providing assistance in obtaining evidence for a claim if the substantially complete or complete application for benefits indicates that there is no reasonable possibility that any assistance VA would provide to the claimant would substantiate the claim. VA will discontinue providing assistance in obtaining evidence for a claim if the evidence obtained indicates that there is no reasonable possibility that further assistance would substantiate the claim. Circumstances in which VA will refrain from or discontinue providing assistance in obtaining evidence include but are not limited to:
(1) The claimant's ineligibility for the benefit sought because of lack of qualifying service, lack of veteran status, or other lack of legal eligibility;
(2) Claims that are inherently not credible or clearly lack merit;
(3) An application requesting a benefit to which the claimant is not entitled as a matter of law; and
(4) The claimant's lack of cooperation in providing or requesting information or evidence necessary to substantiate the claim.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 5103A)
(e) Duty to notify claimant of inability to obtain records.
(1) VA will notify the claimant either orally or in writing when VA:
(i) Has made reasonable efforts to obtain relevant non-Federal records, but is unable to obtain them; or
(ii) After continued efforts to obtain Federal records, concludes that it is reasonably certain they do not exist or that further efforts to obtain them would be futile.
(2) For non-Federal records requests, VA may provide the notice to the claimant at the same time it makes its final attempt to obtain the relevant records.
(3) VA will make a written record of any oral notice conveyed under this paragraph to the claimant.
(4) The notice to the claimant must contain the following information:
(i) The identity of the records VA was unable to obtain;
(ii) An explanation of the efforts VA made to obtain the records;
(iii) The fact described in paragraph (e)(1)(i) or (e)(1)(ii) of this section;
(iv) A description of any further action VA will take regarding the claim, including, but not limited to, notice that VA will decide the claim based on the evidence of record unless the claimant submits the records VA was unable to obtain; and
(v) A notice that the claimant is ultimately responsible for obtaining the evidence.
(5) If VA becomes aware of the existence of relevant records before deciding the claim, VA will notify the claimant of the existence of such records and ask that the claimant provide a release for the records. If the claimant does not provide any necessary release of the relevant records that VA is unable to obtain, VA will ask that the claimant obtain the records and provide them to VA.
(6) For the purpose of this section, if VA must notify the claimant, VA will provide notice to:
(i) The claimant;
(ii) His or her fiduciary, if any; and
(iii) His or her representative, if any.
[74 FR 31856, July 6, 2009]

Title 38 published on 2013-07-01

The following are only the Rules published in the Federal Register after the published date of Title 38.

For a complete list of all Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices view the Rulemaking tab.

  • 2014-03-24; vol. 79 # 56 - Monday, March 24, 2014
    1. 79 FR 15920 - Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program: Changes Related to the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
      Final rule.
      Effective Date: This final rule is effective March 24, 2014. Applicability Date: In accordance with the amended statutory provision of 38 U.S.C. 3108(a)(2), this final rule pertains to all awards of employment adjustment allowance processed on or after August 6, 2013.
      38 CFR Part 21

This is a list of United States Code sections, Statutes at Large, Public Laws, and Presidential Documents, which provide rulemaking authority for this CFR Part.

This list is taken from the Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules provided by GPO [Government Printing Office].

It is not guaranteed to be accurate or up-to-date, though we do refresh the database weekly. More limitations on accuracy are described at the GPO site.


United States Code
U.S. Code: Title 10 - ARMED FORCES
U.S. Code: Title 38 - VETERANS’ BENEFITS

§ 101 - Definitions

§ 501 - Rules and regulations

§ 512 - Delegation of authority; assignment of functions and duties

§ 1151 note - Benefits for persons disabled by treatment or vocational rehabilitation

§ 1163 - Trial work periods and vocational rehabilitation for certain veterans with total disability ratings

§ 1501 - Definitions

§ 1502 - Determinations with respect to disability

§ 1503 - Determinations with respect to annual income

§ 1504 - Persons heretofore having a pensionable status

§ 1505 - Payment of pension during confinement in penal institutions

§ 1506 - Resource reports and overpayment adjustments

§ 1507 - Disappearance

§ 1508 - Frequency of payment of pension benefits

§ 1802 - Spina bifida conditions covered

§ 1803 - Health care

§ 1804 - Vocational training and rehabilitation

§ 1805 - Monetary allowance

§ 1806 - Repealed.

§ 3001 - Purposes

§ 3002 - Definitions

§ 3011 - Basic educational assistance entitlement for service on active duty

§ 3012 - Basic educational assistance entitlement for service in the Selected Reserve

§ 3013 - Duration of basic educational assistance

§ 3014 - Payment of basic educational assistance

§ 3014A - Accelerated payment of basic educational assistance for education leading to employment in high technology occupation in high technology industry

§ 3015 - Amount of basic educational assistance

§ 3016 - Inservice enrollment in a program of education

§ 3017 - Death benefit

§ 3018 - Opportunity for certain active-duty personnel to withdraw election not to enroll

§ 3018A - Opportunity for certain active-duty personnel to enroll before being involuntarily separated from service

§ 3018B - Opportunity for certain persons to enroll

§ 3018C - Opportunity for certain VEAP participants to enroll

§ 3019 - Tutorial assistance

§ 3020 - Authority to transfer unused education benefits to family members for career service members

§ 3021 - Supplemental educational assistance for additional service

§ 3022 - Amount of supplemental educational assistance

§ 3023 - Payment of supplemental educational assistance under this subchapter

§ 3031 - Time limitation for use of eligibility and entitlement

§ 3032 - Limitations on educational assistance for certain individuals

§ 3033 - Bar to duplication of educational assistance benefits

§ 3034 - Program administration

§ 3035 - Allocation of administration and of program costs

§ 3036 - Repealed.

§ 3100 - Purposes

§ 3101 - Definitions

§ 3102 - Basic entitlement

§ 3103 - Periods of eligibility

§ 3104 - Scope of services and assistance

§ 3105 - Duration of rehabilitation programs

§ 3106 - Initial and extended evaluations; determinations regarding serious employment handicap

§ 3107 - Individualized vocational rehabilitation plan

§ 3108 - Allowances

§ 3109 - Entitlement to independent living services and assistance

§ 3110 - Leaves of absence

§ 3111 - Regulations to promote satisfactory conduct and cooperation

§ 3112 - Revolving fund loans

§ 3113 - Vocational rehabilitation for hospitalized members of the Armed Forces and veterans

§ 3114 - Vocational rehabilitation outside the United States

§ 3115 - Rehabilitation resources

§ 3116 - Promotion of employment and training opportunities

§ 3117 - Employment assistance

§ 3118 - Personnel training, development, and qualifications

§ 3119 - Rehabilitation research and special projects

§ 3120 - Program of independent living services and assistance

§ 3121 - Veterans’ Advisory Committee on Rehabilitation

§ 3122 - Longitudinal study of vocational rehabilitation programs

§ 3201 - Purpose

§ 3202 - Definitions

§ 3221 - Eligibility

§ 3222 - Contributions; matching fund

§ 3223 - Refunds of contributions upon disenrollment

§ 3224 - Death of participant

§ 3225 - Discharge or release under conditions which would bar the use of benefits

§ 3231 - Entitlement; loan eligibility

§ 3232 - Duration; limitations

§ 3233 - Apprenticeship or other on-job training

§ 3234 - Tutorial assistance

§ 3241 - Requirements

§ 3242 - Vacant]

§ 3243 - Deposits; reports

§ 3301 - Definitions

§ 3311 - Educational assistance for service in the Armed Forces commencing on or after September 11, 2001: entitlement

§ 3312 - Educational assistance: duration

§ 3313 - Educational assistance: amount; payment

§ 3314 - Tutorial assistance

§ 3315 - Licensure and certification tests

§ 3315A - National tests

§ 3316 - Supplemental educational assistance: members with critical skills or specialty; members serving additional service

§ 3317 - Public-private contributions for additional educational assistance

§ 3318 - Additional assistance: relocation or travel assistance for individual relocating or traveling significant distance for pursuit of a program of education

§ 3319 - Authority to transfer unused education benefits to family members

§ 3321 - Time limitation for use of and eligibility for entitlement

§ 3322 - Bar to duplication of educational assistance benefits

§ 3323 - Administration

§ 3324 - Allocation of administration and costs

§ 3451 - Purpose

§ 3452 - Definitions

§ 3461 - Eligibility; entitlement; duration

§ 3462 - Time limitations for completing a program of education

§ 3463 - Vacant]

§ 3470 - Selection of program

§ 3471 - Applications; approval

§ 3472 - Vacant]

§ 3473 - Repealed.

§ 3474 - Discontinuance for unsatisfactory conduct or progress

§ 3475 - Vacant]

§ 3476 - Education outside the United States

§ 3477, 3478 - Vacant]

§ 3481 - Educational assistance allowance

§ 3482 - Computation of educational assistance allowances

§ 3482A - Vacant]

§ 3483 - Approval of courses

§ 3484 - Apprenticeship or other on-job training; correspondence courses

§ 3485 - Work-study allowance

§ 3486, 3487 - Vacant]

§ 3490 - Purpose

§ 3491 - Elementary and secondary education and preparatory educational assistance

§ 3492 - Tutorial assistance

§ 3493 - Effect on educational entitlement

§ 3495 to 3498 - Vacant]

§ 3500 - Purpose

§ 3501 - Definitions

§ 3510 - Eligibility and entitlement generally

§ 3511 - Duration of educational assistance

§ 3512 - Periods of eligibility

§ 3513 - Application

§ 3514 - Processing of applications

§ 3520 - Educational and vocational counseling

§ 3521 - Approval of application

§ 3522 - Vacant]

§ 3523 - Disapproval of enrollment in certain courses

§ 3524 - Discontinuance for unsatisfactory progress

§ 3525, 3526 - Vacant]

§ 3531 - Educational assistance allowance

§ 3532 - Computation of educational assistance allowance

§ 3533 - Special assistance for the educationally disadvantaged

§ 3534 - Apprenticeship or other on-job training; correspondence courses

§ 3535 - Approval of courses

§ 3536 - Specialized vocational training courses

§ 3537 - Work-study allowance

§ 3538 - Vacant]

§ 3540 - Purpose

§ 3541 - Entitlement to special restorative training

§ 3542 - Special training allowance

§ 3543 - Special administrative provisions

§ 3561 - Authority and duties of Secretary

§ 3562 - Nonduplication of benefits

§ 3563 - Notification of eligibility

§ 3564 - Annual adjustment of amounts of educational assistance

§ 3565 - Children of certain Philippine veterans

§ 3566 - Definitions

§ 3670 - Scope of approval

§ 3671 - Designation

§ 3672 - Approval of courses

§ 3673 - Approval activities: cooperation and coordination of activities

§ 3674 - Reimbursement of expenses

§ 3674A - Evaluations of agency performance; qualifications and performance of agency personnel

§ 3675 - Approval of accredited courses

§ 3676 - Approval of nonaccredited courses

§ 3677 - Approval of training on the job

§ 3678 - Notice of approval of courses

§ 3679 - Disapproval of courses

§ 3680 - Payment of educational assistance or subsistence allowances

§ 3680A - Disapproval of enrollment in certain courses

§ 3681 - Limitations on educational assistance

§ 3682 - Control by agencies of the United States

§ 3683 - Conflicting interests

§ 3684 - Reports by veterans, eligible persons, and institutions; reporting fee

§ 3684A - Procedures relating to computer matching program

§ 3685 - Overpayments to eligible persons or veterans

§ 3686 - Correspondence courses

§ 3687 - Apprenticeship or other on-job training

§ 3688 - Measurement of courses

§ 3689 - Approval requirements for licensing and certification testing

§ 3690 - Overcharges by educational institutions; discontinuance of allowances; examination of records; false or misleading statements

§ 3691 - Change of program

§ 3692 - Advisory committee

§ 3693 - Compliance surveys

§ 3694 - Use of other Federal agencies

§ 3695 - Limitation on period of assistance under two or more programs

§ 3696 - Limitation on certain advertising, sales, and enrollment practices

§ 3697 - Funding of contract educational and vocational counseling

§ 3697A - Educational and vocational counseling

§ 3698 - Comprehensive policy on providing education information to veterans

38 U.S. Code § 3698 - Comprehensive policy on providing education information to veterans

§ 5100 - Definition of “claimant”

§ 5101 - Claims and forms

§ 5102 - Application forms furnished upon request; notice to claimants of incomplete applications

§ 5103 - Notice to claimants of required information and evidence

§ 5103A - Duty to assist claimants

§ 5104 - Decisions and notices of decisions

§ 5105 - Joint applications for social security and dependency and indemnity compensation

§ 5106 - Furnishing of information by other agencies

§ 5107 - Claimant responsibility; benefit of the doubt

§ 5108 - Reopening disallowed claims

§ 5109 - Independent medical opinions

§ 5109A - Revision of decisions on grounds of clear and unmistakable error

§ 5109B - Expedited treatment of remanded claims

§ 5303A - Minimum active-duty service requirement

U.S. Code: Title 41 - PUBLIC CONTRACTS
U.S. Code: Title 42 - THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE
Statutes at Large
Public Laws

Title 38 published on 2013-07-01

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 38 CFR 21 after this date.

  • 2014-03-24; vol. 79 # 56 - Monday, March 24, 2014
    1. 79 FR 15920 - Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program: Changes Related to the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
      Final rule.
      Effective Date: This final rule is effective March 24, 2014. Applicability Date: In accordance with the amended statutory provision of 38 U.S.C. 3108(a)(2), this final rule pertains to all awards of employment adjustment allowance processed on or after August 6, 2013.
      38 CFR Part 21