Chapter Determining Veteran Status and Eligibility for Benefits



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5. General Information Regarding Verification of Service and Character of Discharge




Introduction

This topic contains information on verifying service and the Veteran’s character of discharge, including


  • verifying service and character of discharge

  • determining former prisoner of war (FPOW) status

  • procedures for verifying character of discharge

  • considering travel time when verifying length of service

  • requesting certification of travel time

  • determining travel time for Public Health Service (PHS) claimants

  • paying compensation prior to service verification for Veterans retired for length of service, and

  • paying nonservice-connected (NSC) burial benefits.



Change Date

September 30, 2010



a. Verifying Service and Character of Discharge

Verify active service dates and character of discharge by first reviewing the available service department records or other acceptable evidence of service in the claims folder. If a review of the claims folder indicates the available evidence is incomplete, any information is questionable, or no service department records or other acceptable evidence are available, request further verification or additional data via the


  • Personnel Information Exchange System (PIES), under procedures in the PIES User Guide, and M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart iii, 2.D.21, or

  • Veteran Information Solution (VIS), under procedures in the Veterans Information Solution (VIS) User Guide, and M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart ii, 6.6.c.



b. Determining FPOW Status

Review the claim and the available service and separation records for any indication that the Veteran was a former prisoner of war (FPOW).
Reference: If the Veteran is an FPOW, see M21-1MR, Part IV, Subpart ii, 1.G.23.

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5. General Information Regarding Verification of Service and Character of Discharge, Continued

c. Finding Detailed Procedures Regarding the Verification of Character of Discharge




  • For information on forms of evidence of character of discharge, see M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart ii, 6.6.




  • For information on making determinations about character of discharge, see M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart v, 1.B.5.



d. Considering Travel Time When Verifying Length of Service for Eligibility Determinations

Under 38 U.S.C. § 106(c), a serviceperson is considered to remain on active duty after discharge or release for the period of time necessary to travel directly home. Travel time is determined by the service department, however, a person is always considered to be on active duty until midnight of the day of discharge or release.
Consider travel time in determining eligibility to benefits requiring 90 days or 24 months of active service. By adding travel time as certified by the service department, the required period of active service may be met. If there is a possibility that the information regarding travel time may be determinative, request the information from the service department in accordance with M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart iii, 2.D.21.
Note: Do not routinely request certification of travel time if the records show that the Veteran had less than 80 days of active service. In these cases, request certifications only if



e. Requesting Certification of Travel Time

If the Veteran is disabled or dies from an injury within 11 days after discharge from service, compensation or Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) may be payable.
In these cases, or if travel time is put at issue by the claimant, make an inquiry to the service department as to whether the Veteran was entitled to travel time under 38 U.S.C. § 106(c) for the date and hour on which the injury or death occurred.

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5. General Information Regarding Verification of Service and Character of Discharge, Continued

f. Determining Travel Time for PHS Claimants

For Public Health Service (PHS) claimants, accept the dates shown on the separation document as including travel time.
The PHS determines travel time prior to separation and includes it in the active duty dates.



g. Paying Compensation Prior to Service Verification for a Veteran Retired for Length of Service

Use the procedure in the table below if


  • the evidence shows the Veteran retired due to length of service, and

  • medical records are available, but not all service periods are verified.


Note: This procedure applies only to Veterans who are retired from the military for length of service.




Step

Action

1

  • Request verification from the appropriate service department of unverified service periods via PIES, and

  • maintain a 60-day control.

2

Send the claims folder to the rating activity for action.

3

If


  • service connection is granted, go to Step 4

  • service connection is denied, go to Step 5, and

  • no response is received from the service department within 60 days, go to Step 6.

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5. General Information Regarding Verification of Service and Character of Discharge, Continued


g. Paying Compensation Prior to Service Verification for a Veteran Retired for Length of Service (continued)




Step

Action

4

When service connection to a compensable degree is granted


  • input data to process the compensation award

  • enter the unverified EOD date from service medical records or VA Form 21-526,Veteran’s Application for Compensation or Pension, in the EOD field on the Benefits Delivery Network (BDN)/Share RATING DATA screen

  • update the Beneficiary Identification and Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS)/Share Veteran Identification Data (VID) screen to show

  • GAP

  • the Senior Veteran Service Representative (SVSR) will authorize the award continue the end product (EP) for 60 days, and

  • go to Step 6.

5

When service connection is denied or when service connection is granted at a non-compensable degree


  • input data to process the disallowance

  • GAP, and

  • the authorizer will clear the end product (EP) during CAUT.

6

When no response is received from the service department within 60 days


  • check the status of the request via PIES as outlined in M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart iii, 2.D.24.

When a response is received from the service department




  • update the service data in BIRLS and the Master Record, and

  • clear the EP control.

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5. General Information Regarding Verification of Service and Character of Discharge, Continued

h. Paying NSC Burial Benefits

If, during a Veteran’s lifetime, he/she was awarded VA compensation or pension, use the same evidence of service relied on to authorize such payment to pay nonservice-connected (NSC) burial benefits, if otherwise in order.
However, if there is reason to doubt the correctness of the evidence, the evidence must be verified before payment can be authorized.



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