Veterans Administration Claims and Legal Updates
THIS INFORMATION SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD STRONGLY CONSIDER THE BENEFITS OF CONSULTING WITH A TRAINED LEGAL PROFESSIONAL
M 21-1 Veterans Administration Manual was found not to have the force of law or even regulation in Disabled American Veterans v. The Secretary of the VA.
This is a ground-breaking decision because the VA has traditionally relied on the M 21-1 to defend its decisions.
“The M21-1 Manual is an administrative staff manual that affects a member of the public. The M21-1 Manual is “an electronic resource that has consolidated all of VA’s policy and procedural guidance on processing disability claims into one location.” J.A. 81. It is intended for “VBA employees processing Veteran and Survivor claims for compensation, pension and burial benefits.” Id. The manual is intended to instruct VBA employees when processing claims, and its provisions affect the public. Section 502’s express exclusion of agency actions subject to § 552(a)(2) renders the M21-1 Manual beyond our § 502 jurisdiction unless DAV can show the VA’s revisions more readily fall under §§ 552(a)(1) or 553. Because DAV has not shown that the VA’s revisions to the M21-1 Manual are actions of the Secretary subject to either §§ 552(a)(1) or 553, we lack jurisdiction to review the M21-1 Manual revisions”