38 CFR § 3.203 - Service records as evidence of service and character of discharge.
(a) Evidence submitted by a claimant. For the purpose of establishing entitlement to pension, compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation or burial benefits the Department of Veterans Affairs may accept evidence of service submitted by a claimant (or sent directly to the Department of Veterans Affairs by the service department), such as a DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or original Certificate of Discharge, without verification from the appropriate service department if the evidence meets the following conditions:
(1) The evidence is a document issued by the service department. A copy of an original document is acceptable if the copy was issued by the service department or if the copy was issued by a public custodian of records who certifies that it is a true and exact copy of the document in the custodian's custody or, if the copy was submitted by an accredited agent, attorney or service organization representative who has successfully completed VA-prescribed training on military records, and who certifies that it is a true and exact copy of either an original document or of a copy issued by the service department or a public custodian of records; and
(2) The document contains needed information as to length, time and character of service; and
(3) In the opinion of the Department of Veterans Affairs the document is genuine and the information contained in it is accurate.
(b) Additional requirements for pension claimants. In addition to meeting the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section, a document submitted to establish a creditable period of wartime service for pension entitlement may be accepted without verification if the document (or other evidence of record) shows:
(1) Service of 4 months or more; or
(2) Discharge for disability incurred in line of duty; or
(3) Ninety days creditable service based on records from the service department such as hospitalization for 90 days for a line of duty disability.
(c) Verification from the service department. When the claimant does not submit evidence of service or the evidence submitted does not meet the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section (and paragraph (b) of this section in pension claims), the Department of Veterans Affairs shall request verification of service from the service department. However, payment of nonservice-connected burial benefits may be authorized, if otherwise in order, based upon evidence of service which VA relied upon to authorize payment of compensation or pension during the veteran's lifetime, provided that there is no evidence which would serve to create doubt as to the correctness of that service evidence. If it appears that a length of service requirement may not be met (e.g., the 90 days wartime service requirement to receive pension under 38 U.S.C. 1521(j)), the Department of Veterans Affairs shall request a complete statement of service to determine if there are any periods of active service that are required to be excluded under § 3.15.
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