Veteran's Law Group Glossary of Terms

Term Section: P

Political Subdivision

includes the jurisdiction defined as a state and the countries, cities, or municipalities of each.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Acquired mental condition manifested after the occurrence of an extreme traumatic event where the persons response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Manifestations of the disorder include persistent reexperiencing of the traumatic event, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma or numbing of general responsiveness, and systems of increased arousal.

Preponderance of Evidence

Demonstration that the VA's evidence is superior to that which was introduced by the veteran before a claim may be denied.

Presumptive Service Connection

The presumption that chronic, tropical, or prisoner-of-war related diseases, and diseases related to exposure to Agent Orange or ionizing radiation, have been incurred in service, even though there is no evidence of such disease during the period of service.

Probative Evidence

Evidence that has a tendency to prove or actually prove an alleged entitlement.

Proximate Cause

An event that caused an injury or disease and without such injury or exposure the disability would not have occurred.


Evaluation under the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities of the same manifestation of a disability under various diagnoses (see 38 C.F.R. 4.14 (2004) (prohibition against pyramiding).

Term Section: R

Reasonable Doubt

In a VA claim action, the term implies certainty that must be applied before benefits can be denied. If the amount of evidence for an against the claim is equal or nearly equal, the decision must be in favor of the claimant.

Regional Office (RO)

A local VA office; there are 58 VA regional offices throughout the U.S. and its territories.

Regional Office Hearing

A personal hearing conducted by an RO officer. A regional office hearing may be conducted in addition to a BVA hearing.


An appeal returned to the regional office or office of jurisdiction, by the BVA, for further development.


Someone familiar with the benefit claim process that assists claimants in the preparation and presentation of an appeal. Most representatives are Veterans' Service Organization employees who specialize in veterans' benefit claims. Most states, commonwealths, and territories also have experienced representatives to assist veterans. Other individuals, such as lawyers, may also serve as appeal representatives.

Rules of Practice

Federal regulations, in 38 CFR, Part 20 sets out procedures for appeals to the Board of Veterans' Appeals. The 38 CFR Part 20 sections cited in this pamphlet are "Rules of Practice."

Term Section: S

Schedule for Rating Disabilities

Title 38, part 4, of the Code of Federal Regulations, which provides a list of criteria for evaluation of all types of diseases and injuries encountered as a result of or incident to military service. The various percentage degrees of disability assigned to each disease or injury represent as far as can be practically determined the average impairment in earning capacity resulting from such diseases and injuries and their residual conditions in civil occupations.

Secondary Service Connection

Disability that is proximately due to or the result of a service-connected disease or injury such that it is considered part of the original condition and thus also warrants service connection.


With respect to a disability or death, a disability that was incurred or aggravated, or a death that resulted from a disability incurred or aggravated, in the line of duty in the active military, naval, or air service.

Simultaneously Contested Claim

A simultaneously contested claim is a claim where more than one person is trying to get a VA benefit or status that only one of them can have. Examples might be two people each claiming they are entitled to all of the proceeds of the same life insurance policy, or two people each asking to be recognized as a particular veteran's lawful surviving spouse.

Statement of the Case

An explanation from the agency of original jurisdiction (AOJ) in response to a claimants Notice of Disagreement that explains how the AOJ made its decision in a particular case. The SOC sets forth the facts and applicable laws and regulations upon which the agencys decision was based. An appellant has 60 days from the date of the SOC to file Substantive Appeal, transmitting the appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals. If a Substantive Appeal is not received timely, the claim will be closed.

Substantive Appeal

After receiving a Statement of the Case, the appellant must file a Substantive Appeal to continue the appellate process. In the Substantive Appeal, the appellant has the opportunity to present specific arguments relating to errors of fact or law in the decision of the regional office. The Substantive Appeal may consist of an adequately executed VA Form 9, Appeal to Board of Veterans Appeals, or correspondence containing the necessary information. This is the final action the appellant must take to perfect the appeal.

Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC)

A summary, similar to an SOC, that VA prepares if a VA Form 9 contains a new issue or presents new evidence and the benefit is still denied. A Supplemental Statement of the Case will also be provided after an appeal is returned (remanded) to the RO by the Board for new or additional action.

Our Duty: Helping disabled veterans win maximum benefits for their total disability claim.

Veterans Benefits Claims Process

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

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