Summary: H.R.4864 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (09/25/2000)

Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000 - Amends Federal veterans' benefits provisions to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to take specified steps to assist claimants. Requires the Secretary to: (1) notify a claimant whose application is incomplete of the information necessary to complete the application (existing law), including medical or lay evidence necessary to substantiate the claim and, as part of such notice, to indicate which portion of such evidence is to be provided by the claimant and which portion the Secretary will attempt to obtain on behalf of the claimant; (2) make reasonable efforts to assist in obtaining evidence necessary to substantiate a claimant's eligibility for a benefit (but allows the Secretary to decide a claim without providing such assistance when no reasonable possibility exists that such assistance will aid in the establishment of eligibility) and to obtain relevant records that the claimant adequately identifies to the Secretary and authorizes the Secretary to obtain; and (3) inform the claimant whenever the Secretary is unable to obtain such records.

Requires, in the case of a veteran's claim for disability compensation, the Secretary to: (1) obtain the claimant's service medical records and, if the claimant has furnished sufficient information, other relevant service records, existing records of relevant medical treatment or examination at Department of Veterans Affairs health care facilities or at the expense of the Department, and any other relevant records held by a Federal department or agency; and (2) provide a medical examination or obtain a medical opinion when the evidence indicates that the claimant has a current disability, or persistent or recurrent symptoms of disability, which may be associated with active military service, but does not contain sufficient medical evidence for the Secretary to make a decision on the claim.

(Sec. 4) Places on the claimant the burden of proving entitlement to benefits (currently, of submitting evidence to justify a belief by a fair and impartial individual that the claim is well grounded).

(Sec. 5) Requires the Federal department or agency providing information under this Act to bear its costs.

(Sec. 7) Provides for: (1) the applicability of provisions of this Act concerning the burden of proof to claims filed before, or not final as of, the date of enactment of this Act; and (2) the readjudication of claims for benefits that were denied, because the claims were not well grounded, during the period between July 14, 1999, and this Act's enactment date.