Veteran's Law Group Glossary of Terms

Term Section: F

Former Prisoner of War

A person who, while serving in the active military, naval, or air service, was forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty by an enemy or foreign government, the agents of either, or a hostile force.

Term Section: H


A meeting, similar to an interview, between an appellant and an official from VA who will decide an appellant's case, during which testimony and other evidence supporting the case is presented. There are two types of personal hearings: Regional office hearings (also called local office hearings) and BVA hearings.

Hostile Force

Any entity other than an enemy or foreign government or the agents of either whose actions are taken to further or enhance anti-American military, political, or economic objectives or views or to attempt to embarrass the United States.


Cash payment paid over and above any other compensation or pension payment that may be due, for claimants who are substantially confined to their home or immediate premises (if institutionalized, then ward or clinical area) because of a disability or disabilities. For compensation purposes, a claimant determined to be housebound because of his or her service-connected conditions is entitled to Special Monthly Compensation over and above the 100 percent compensation rate. For pension purposes, an amount over and above the maximum annual pension rate (MAPR) is paid to a claimant determined to be housebound. In making the determination for pension purposes, all conditions, whether service-connected or not, are considered.

Term Section: I

In the Line of Duty

For an injury or disease to be considered to have been incurred or aggravated during a period of active military, naval, or air service, it must have occurred in the line of duty. If such injury or disease was the result of willful misconduct on the part of the veteran it will not be considered to have occurred in the line of duty. A service departments finding that injury, disease, or death occurred in the line of duty will be binding on the VA unless it is patently inconsistent with the requirements of laws administered by the VA. Requirements for a line of duty determination are not met if at the time the injury was suffered or disease contracted the veteran avoided duty by desertion or absence without official leave, was confined by court-martial involving an unremitted dishonorable discharge, or was confined under sentence of a civil court for a felony as determined under the laws of jurisdiction where the person was convicted by such court.

Individual Unemployability

Total disability evaluation assigned to an individual because of any service-connected impairment (or combination of impairments) of mind or body that fails to meet the criteria for a total disability rating under the Schedule for Rating Disabilities but that nonetheless renders it impossible for that person to follow substantial gainful employment (38 C.F.R. 4.16 (2004)).


Life insurance benefits paid to the beneficiary designated on the policies at the time of a veterans death under various government programs providing insurance to active-duty service personnel and veterans.


A benefit sought on a claim or an appeal. For example, if an appeal seeks a decision on three different matters, the appeal is said to contain three issues.

Term Section: M


A marriage valid under the law of the place where the parties resided at the time of marriage, or the law of the place where the parties resided when the right to benefits accrued.

Maximum Annual Pension Rate

Maximum amount of pension payable to a veteran, reduced by the amount of the veterans annual income and, in some instances, the annual income of other family members.

Member of the Board

An attorney, appointed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and approved by the President, who decides veterans' benefit appeals.


A legal term used to describe a written request that some specific action be taken.

Motion to Advance on the Docket

A request that BVA review and decide an appeal sooner than when it normally would, based on the appeal's docket number order.

Motion to Reconsider

A request for BVA to review its decision on an appeal.

Term Section: N

New and Material Evidence

Evidence not previously submitted to agency decision makers, which requires the VA to reopen a claim that has been finally denied in the past and decide it anew based on both the old and the new evidence. To be new and material, the evidence must, among other things, bear directly and substantially upon the specific matter under consideration, and be neither cumulative nor redundant.


With respect to disability or death, a disability that was not incurred or aggravated, or a death that did not result from a disability incurred or aggravated, in the line of duty while the veteran was in the active military, naval, or air service.


A written notice sent to a claimant or payee at his or her latest address of records.

Notice of Disagreement (NOD)

A written statement expressing dissatisfaction or disagreement with a local VA office's determination on a benefit claim that must be filed within one year of the date of the regional office's decision.

Term Section: P


Monthly payments to a veteran who meets certain minimum wartime service requirements, who became permanently and totally disabled from disability or disabilities not related to military service, and who meets certain income and net worth limits.

Permanent and Total Disability

For pension purposes, all veterans who are basically unable to secure and follow a substantially gainful occupation by reason of disabilities which are likely to be permanent shall be rated as permanently and totally disabled (38 C.F.R. 4.17 (2004); see also 38 C.F.R. 3.340, 3.342 (2004)).

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Veterans Benefits Claims Process

Checklists and general guidelines for the Standard Claims Process, and Claim Appeals Process.

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