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M21-1, Part III, Subpart vi, Chapter 6, Section B – Contested Claims Development


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:
Topic Name

1.  Developing Contested Claims


This topic contains information on developing contested claims, including

Change Date

May 10, 2007  Developing Claims Simultaneously

Develop the claims of all contesting parties simultaneously, giving all interested parties every opportunity to submit all available evidence.  Varying Development Procedures

Development procedures vary with each case, depending on
  • the nature of the contest
  • the evidence of record
  • the availability of evidence, and
  • other factors.
Note:  Developing the facts in a contested claim often presents problems that cannot be resolved by applying a specific formula or rule.  Providing Assistance to Claimants

To assist a claimant
  • furnish him/her with the substance of the allegations of contesting claimants and any information in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) records that may help him/her obtain the evidence required to complete the claim
  • advise him/her of possible sources where the evidence may be obtained, and
  • ask him/her to tell VA if he/she cannot furnish the required evidence and the reason why. Claimant’s Responsibility to Provide Adequate Evidence to Support the Claim

The claimant must either
  • supply acceptable proof of the validity of a claim, or
  • present an adequate explanation of his/her inability to supply any evidence that is lacking.  Deciding When a Field Examination Is Warranted

Request a field examination only if there is still doubt as to how to decide the case after reviewing all the available evidence from both claimants.
In any request for a field examination, show the
  • sources consulted, and
  • efforts made, as reported by the claimant.
Reference:  For more information on field examination requests, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart vi, 8.8.  Resolving Domestic Relations Questions

Follow the procedures in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5 to resolve any domestic relations questions involving the validity and legal effects of
  • marriage (ceremonial or otherwise)
  • divorce
  • ostensible marriage
  • void marriage, and
  • adoption or legitimacy of children.
Reference:  For information on contested claims involving a deemed valid marriage, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.E.9.

2.  Time Frames for Determining Entitlement and Submitting Evidence


This topic contains information on the time frames for determining entitlement and submitting evidence, including

Change Date

May 10, 2007  Determining Entitlement at the Earliest Date

Make every effort to determine entitlement at the earliest date.
If additional evidence is required from a contesting claimant, notify him/her of the evidence necessary to complete the claim and advise him/her using the following language:
This evidence should be submitted as promptly as possible, preferably within 30 days.  If you are unable to obtain the evidence, please state the reason and send us any proof you do have.  Failure to furnish the evidence requested within 1 year from the date of this letter may preclude the payment of any benefits on the basis of this claim.  Establishing Control for Receiving Evidence

Establish a 30-day control.
Reference:  For more information on maintaining controls for the response to the follow-up, see  Taking Action Within the One-Year Time Limit for Submitting Evidence

Even though the time limit for submitting evidence is one year, it does not prevent a claim from being denied at any time within this period if entitlement of the other claimant is established.
Transmittal-05_10_07.doc May 18, 2019 32 KB
Change-May-7-2015-Transmittal-Sheet-M21-1III_vi_6_SecB_TS.docx May 18, 2019 35 KB
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