38 U.S. Code § 5103 - Notice to claimants of required information and evidence
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(a) Required Information and Evidence.—
(1) The Secretary shall provide to the claimant and the claimant’s representative, if any, by the most effective means available, including electronic communication or notification in writing, notice of any information, and any medical or lay evidence, not previously provided to the Secretary that is necessary to substantiate the claim. As part of that notice, the Secretary shall indicate which portion of that information and evidence, if any, is to be provided by the claimant and which portion, if any, the Secretary, in accordance with section 5103A of this title and any other applicable provisions of law, will attempt to obtain on behalf of the claimant.
(A) The Secretary shall prescribe in regulations requirements relating to the contents of notice to be provided under this subsection.
(B) The regulations required by this paragraph—
(i) shall specify different contents for notice based on whether the claim concerned is an original claim, a claim for reopening a prior decision on a claim, or a claim for an increase in benefits;
(ii) shall provide that the contents for such notice be appropriate to the type of benefits or services sought under the claim;
(iii) shall specify for each type of claim for benefits the general information and evidence required to substantiate the basic elements of such type of claim; and
(b) Time Limitation.—
(1) In the case of information or evidence that the claimant is notified under subsection (a) is to be provided by the claimant, such information or evidence must be received by the Secretary within one year from the date such notice is sent.
(2) This subsection shall not apply to any application or claim for Government life insurance benefits.
(3) Nothing in paragraph (1) shall be construed to prohibit the Secretary from making a decision on a claim before the expiration of the period referred to in that subsection.
(4) Nothing in this section shall require the Secretary to provide notice for a subsequent claim that is filed while a previous claim is pending if the notice previously provided for such pending claim—
(A) provides sufficient notice of the information and evidence necessary to substantiate such subsequent claim; and
(A) This section shall not apply to any claim or issue where the Secretary may award the maximum benefit in accordance with this title based on the evidence of record.
(B) For purposes of this paragraph, the term “maximum benefit” means the highest evaluation assignable in accordance with the evidence of record, as long as such evidence is adequate for rating purposes and sufficient to grant the earliest possible effective date in accordance with section 5110 of this title.
Source(Added Pub. L. 106–475, § 3(a),Nov. 9, 2000, 114 Stat. 2096; amended Pub. L. 107–14, § 8(a)(12),June 5, 2001, 115 Stat. 35; Pub. L. 108–183, title VII, § 701(b),Dec. 16, 2003, 117 Stat. 2670; Pub. L. 110–389, title I, § 101(a),Oct. 10, 2008, 122 Stat. 4147; Pub. L. 112–154, title V, § 504(a),Aug. 6, 2012, 126 Stat. 1191.)
A prior section 5103,Pub. L. 85–857, Sept. 2, 1958, 72 Stat. 1225, § 3003; Pub. L. 99–570, title XI, § 11007(a)(1),Oct. 27, 1986, 100 Stat. 3207–170; renumbered § 5103,Pub. L. 102–40, title IV, § 402(b)(1),May 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 238; Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(1), (b)(1), (2)(E),Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 403–405, related to incomplete applications, prior to repeal by Pub. L. 106–475, § 3(a),Nov. 9, 2000, 114 Stat. 2096.
2012—Subsec. (a)(1). Pub. L. 112–154, § 504(a)(1), substituted “The” for “Upon receipt of a complete or substantially complete application, the” and “provide to” for “notify” and inserted “by the most effective means available, including electronic communication or notification in writing, notice” before “of any information”.
Subsec. (b)(4), (5). Pub. L. 112–154, § 504(a)(2), added pars. (4) and (5).
2008—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 110–389designated existing provisions as par. (1) and added par. (2).
2003—Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 108–183, § 701(b)(1), substituted “such information or evidence must be received by the Secretary within one year from the date such notice is sent” for “if such information or evidence is not received by the Secretary within one year from the date of such notification, no benefit may be paid or furnished by reason of the claimant’s application”.
Subsec. (b)(3). Pub. L. 108–183, § 701(b)(2), added par. (3).
2001—Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 107–14substituted “one year” for “1 year”.
Effective Date of 2012 Amendment
“(1) In general.—The amendments made by subsection (a) [amending this section] shall take effect on the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act [Aug. 6, 2012] and shall apply with respect to notification obligations of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on or after such date.
“(2) Construction regarding applicability.—Nothing in this section [amending this section and enacting provisions set out as a note below] or the amendments made by this section shall be construed to require the Secretary to carry out notification procedures in accordance with requirements of section 5103 of title 38, United States Code, as in effect on the day before the effective date established in paragraph (1) on or after such effective date.”
Effective Date of 2003 Amendment
Amendment effective as if enacted Nov. 9, 2000, immediately after the enactment of the Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000, Pub. L. 106–475, see section 701(c) ofPub. L. 108–183, set out as a note under section 5102 of this title.
Pub. L. 112–154, title V, § 504(b),Aug. 6, 2012, 126 Stat. 1192, provided that: “Nothing in the amendments made by subsection (a) [amending this section] shall be construed as eliminating any requirement with respect to the contents of a notice under section 5103 of title 38, United States Code, that is required under regulations prescribed pursuant to subsection (a)(2) of such section as of the date of the enactment of this Act [Aug. 6, 2012].”
Applicability of Regulations
Pub. L. 110–389, title I, § 101(b),Oct. 10, 2008, 122 Stat. 4148, provided that: “The regulations required by paragraph (2) of section 5103 (a) of title 38, United States Code (as amended by subsection (a) of this section), shall apply with respect to notices provided to claimants on or after the effective date of such regulations.”
Readjudication of Certain Claims; Notice
“(d) Procedures for Readjudication of Certain Claims.—(1) The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall readjudicate a claim of a qualified claimant if the request for such readjudication is received not later than the end of the one-year period that begins on the date of the enactment of this Act [Dec. 16, 2003].
“(2) For purposes of this subsection, a claimant is qualified within the meaning of paragraph (1) if the claimant—
“(A) received notice under section 5103 (a) of title 38, United States Code, requesting information or evidence to substantiate a claim;
“(B) did not submit such information or evidence within a year after the date such notice was sent;
“(C) did not file a timely appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals or the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; and
“(D) submits such information or evidence during the one-year period referred to in paragraph (1).
“(3) If the decision of the Secretary on a readjudication under this subsection is in favor of the qualified claimant, the award of the grant shall take effect as if the prior decision by the Secretary on the claim had not been made.
“(4) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to establish a duty on the part of the Secretary to identify or readjudicate any claim that—
“(A) is not submitted during the one-year period referred to in paragraph (1); or
“(B) has been the subject of a timely appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals or the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
“(e) Construction on Providing Renotification.—Nothing in this section [amending this section and section 5102 of this title and enacting provisions set out as a note under section 5102 of this title], or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs—
“(1) to provide notice under section 5103(a) of such title with respect to a claim insofar as the Secretary has previously provided such notice; or
“(2) to provide for a special notice with respect to this section and the amendments made by this section.”
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