Veteranclaims’s Blog

July 4, 2019

The Purplebook; September 2018; version 1.0.2; encompass all Board policies and procedures; document and consolidate all internal guidance documents;

The 2018 Purplebook can be found at Asknod, see link below, along with a tremendous amount of additional relevant information on veteran’s claims and veteran issues.

https://asknod.org/

THE BVA’S “PURPLEBOOK”–THE LAST WORD ON STARE DECISIS

Posted on July 3, 2019 by asknod

Every once in a while, either someone sends me a great article or a link to one. Once, I got the Army manual on the care and feeding of jetguns.  Nurse Silvia went one better and sent me a whole jetgun. Last night I received the BVA Purplebook,  known in decades past simply as the BVA handbook. It isn’t a Top Secret/Crypto For Your Eyes Only document, but then again it isn’t exactly well-known outside the BVA. In fact, the 2018 version below is one of the few known to exist outside 810 Denial Avenue NW.

I. INTRODUCTION
This document was created as part of a Board-wide priority project to document and consolidate all internal guidance documents. The Purplebook is a tool to provide internal guidance to Board staff and is intended only for use by Board personnel. Board personnel are advised that if there is a conflict between The Purplebook and controlling statute, regulation, and/or caselaw, Board personnel must follow the controlling law. The Purplebook will be updated accordingly. If Board personnel believes that he or she has identified a conflict between The Purplebook and controlling law, the Board personnel is instructed to follow the procedures to report a conflict found in section XV.i.3.
The Purplebook began as a project conducted by a workgroup of Office of Veterans Law Judges and Appellate Group staff in 2013 to merge and update Board Directive 8430 and Board Handbook 8430.2, which had been in effect since 1999 and 1997, respectively. The project was expanded in scope in 2016 to encompass all Board policies and procedures, not just those listed in the Directive and Handbook.
The organizational structure was created by staff from the Office of the Chief Counsel, and it is designed to be easy to update and maintain, so that Board policies and procedures can be modified as needed to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Version 1.0.2
September 2018

TABLE OF CONTENTS……………………………………………………….2
I. INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………… 10
II. DEFINITIONS AND COMMON ACRONYMS …………………. 11
III. GENERAL PROCEDURES ………………………………… 14
i. ELECTRONIC ROUTING …………………………………………… 14……………………… 14

Administrative Staff ……………………………………………………….. 15

VLJs ……………………………………………………… 21
IV. DOCKETING APPEALS (INTAKE) ……………………………………… 22
i. GENERAL PROCESS ………………………………………………… 22
ii. VACOLS ………………………………………………… 22

Importance …………………………… 22

Correcting Erroneous Docket Numbers and Names ………… 23
iii. APPEALS CERTIFIED BY AN AOJ ………………………………….. 23

Intake Standard Operating Procedures ………………………….. 23
iv. CAVC REMAND PROCESSING …………………………………….. 24

Activation ………………………………………………….. 24

Post-Mandate Letters ……………………………………….. 24

Common Pitfalls and Caveats in Processing Post-CAVC Appeals….. 26
v. SINGLE/SEPARATE DECISION POLICY ………………………….. 27

Overview ……………………………………………………… 27

Outside Medical Opinion (OMO) Pending …………………… 27

Relationship to 38 C.F.R. § 19.9 ……………………………. 28

Exceptions to General Policy ……………………… 28

Merging Multiple Docket Numbers into a Single Docket Number ………………………….. 31
vi. RESTORATION OF PAPER FILES ………………….. 35
vii. SIMULTANEOUSLY CONTESTED CLAIMS …………………… 35

Recognizing a Simultaneously Contested Claim …… 35

Accuracy of Information ……………………………………. 36

Appeal Receipt Notification Letter ……………………………………………………………………… 38
V. PRE-DECISIONAL DEVELOPMENT ……………………………………………………………………………… 38
i. HEARINGS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 38

Hearing Docket and AOD ………………………………………………………………………………….. 38

Hearings of Record …………………………………………………………………………………………… 38

Informal Hearing Presentations …………………………………………………………………………. 39

Specialty Hearings ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 39

One-Touch Hearing Cases …………………………………………………………………………………. 41

CaseFlow hearing procedures ……………………………………………………………………………. 41
ii. MOTIONS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 42

Definitions ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 42

Interlocutory Ruling………………………………………………………………………………………….. 42

Templates ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 43

AOD ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 44
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Other Motions …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 45
iii. TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENTS NOT IN ENGLISH …………………………………………………… 46

Exceptions ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 46

Procedure ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 47
iv. PRIVACY ACT/FOIA ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 47
v. OBTAINING WAIVERS FOR EVIDENCE SUBMITTED AFTER AOJ REVIEW ……………………… 48

General Policy …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 48

Exception ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 49

How to Send a Waiver Letter …………………………………………………………………………….. 50

When a Waiver is Not Necessary ……………………………………………………………………….. 50
v. OUTSIDE MEDICAL OPINIONS ………………………………………………………………………………. 51

When to Obtain an OMO ………………………………………………………………………………….. 51

Types of OMO Requests ……………………………………………………………………………………. 51

Clarification of OMO Responses ………………………………………………………………………… 52

How to prepare an OMO Request………………………………………………………………………. 52

How to Draft an OMO Request ………………………………………………………………………….. 53

Thurber Letters ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 55
vi. GC OPINIONS ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 56

Overview ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 56

Request Submission …………………………………………………………………………………………. 56

Post-Request Procedures ………………………………………………………………………………….. 57
vii. REQUESTING EQUITABLE RELIEF …………………………………………………………………………… 58

Overview ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 58

Request from the Appellant ………………………………………………………………………………. 59

Request from the VLJ ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 60
viii. SUSPECTED FRAUD/IG REFERRAL PROCESS ……………………………………………………………. 60

Overview ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 60

Authority ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 61

Resources ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 61

Mandatory Referral of Fraud Allegations ……………………………………………………………. 61

Investigation Request Processing by Counsel ………………………………………………………. 61

VLJ ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 62

DVC ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 62

Office of the Chief Counsel ……………………………………………………………………………….. 62

Chairman or Vice Chairman ………………………………………………………………………………. 63

Office of the Chief Counsel Processing Signed Investigation Requests ……………………. 63

Office of the Chief Counsel When IG Reports are Received …………………………………… 63

VLJ Upon Receipt of a Completed IG Report ……………………………………………………….. 64
ix. MISFILED DOCUMENTS ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 64

Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 64

Electronic Appeals Claims Files ………………………………………………………………………….. 65

Paper Claims Files …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 65
x. DETERMINING THE BOARD’S JURISDICTION…………………………………………………………… 68

General …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 68
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Adequacy and Timeliness of NOD and VA Form 9 ………………………………………………… 68

Clarifying the Issues on Appeal ………………………………………………………………………….. 69

Withdrawal of Appeals ……………………………………………………………………………………… 70

Substitution Determinations ……………………………………………………………………………… 70
xi. BRYANT LETTERS ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 70

Letter ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 70

New Hearing ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 71

Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 71
VI. CACB PROCEDURE MANUAL …………………………………………………………………………………….. 71
i. GOVERNING PROCEDURES ………………………………………………………………………………….. 71
ii. RECEIVING CASES ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 73

Board-based VSOs ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 73

OAO Hearing Management Branch …………………………………………………………………….. 74

Litigation Support …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 74

From the AOJ (via CREB)……………………………………………………………………………………. 74
iii. SCREENING PAPER CASES PRIOR TO FILING …………………………………………………………… 74

Any physical claims folder is intact: ……………………………………………………………………. 74

The information on the brief face is correct: ……………………………………………………….. 75

All evidence is associated with the case file: ……………………………………………………….. 75
iv. FILING CASES IN CACB …………………………………………………………………………………………. 76

Special Cases …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 76

“Pre-assigned” Cases in CACB ……………………………………………………………………………. 77

“To-be-assigned” Cases (i.e., “General Population” cases) ……………………………………. 78

“Pre-assigned” Cases not in CACB ………………………………………………………………………. 78
v. CASE REQUESTS, ASSIGNMENT, AND DISTRIBUTION ………………………………………………. 80

Case Requests………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 80

Exceptions to Docket Order ………………………………………………………………………………. 80

The Oldest by Docket Report …………………………………………………………………………….. 81

Assignment of Cases …………………………………………………………………………………………. 83

Case Delivery …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 84

Case Movement of Appeals to Board-based VSOs ……………………………………………….. 85

Case Movement of Appeals within the Board ……………………………………………………… 86
vi. Complete Listing of Board-Based VSOs (updated February 20, 2018) ……………………….. 86
VII. CASE ASSIGNMENT …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 89
i. ASSIGNMENT OF CASES TO VLJS …………………………………………………………………………… 89

Authority to Assign …………………………………………………………………………………………… 89

Initial Assignment …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 90

CUE Motions for Board Decisions ………………………………………………………………………. 90

CAVC-Remanded Cases …………………………………………………………………………………….. 90

Cases Returned to the Board Following Remand to AOJ ……………………………………….. 91

VLJ(s) Who Conducted Hearing Unable to Participate in Final Determination …………. 93

Specialty Case Team Pilot Program…….……..……………………………………………………………….94

Panel of VLJs…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 94

For Corrective Action ………………………………………………………………………………………… 98
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Cases Involving Review of Representatives’ Expenses and/or Fees ………………………… 99

Cases Involving Classified Information and/or IVM …………………………………………….. 100

Disqualification of VLJs or Counsel ……………………………………………………………………. 101

Recusal ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 102
ii. ASSIGNMENT OF CASES TO COUNSEL …………………………………………………………………. 102

File Protection and Control ……………………………………………………………………………… 102

Recusal …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 103
VIII. CASE DRAFTING ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 103
i. SAFEGUARDING PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION (PII) …………………………… 103

Privacy Protection Requirements……………………………………………………………………… 103

Mosaic Effect …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 104

Alternative Forms of Reference ……………………………………………………………………….. 104

Procedure When Personal Identifiers Must Be Included ……………………………………… 104
ii. TEMPLATES – The Interactive Decision Template & Specialized Templates ……………… 105

Formatting …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 105

Specialized …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 105
iii. CAPTIONS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 105

Caption Preparation ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 105

Claim and Other File Numbers …………………………………………………………………………. 105

Docket Numbers …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 106

Identification of Parties …………………………………………………………………………………… 106
iv. GENERAL FORMAT DECISIONS ……………………………………………………………………………. 110

Usage ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 110

Headings ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 111

Finding(s) of Fact (FoF) ……………………………………………………………………………………. 111

Conclusion(s) of Law (CoL) ………………………………………………………………………………. 111
v. SIGNATURE ELEMENTS ……………………………………………………………………………………… 111

Signature Lines ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 111

VLJ Titles ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 111

Decisions with Concurring or Dissenting Opinions ……………………………………………… 112
vi. NOTICES ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 112

Notice of Appellate Rights ……………………………………………………………………………….. 112

Insurance Cases ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 112

Representatives’ Expense Cases ………………………………………………………………………. 112
vii. FORMATTING …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 113

Representation ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 113

Attorney for the Board ……………………………………………………………………………………. 114
viii. STYLE GUIDE …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 115

References to the Department of Veterans Affairs …………………………………………….. 115

References to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals …………………………………………………… 115

Typeface Conventions …………………………………………………………………………………….. 115

Citations ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 115

Capitalization …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 120

Dates …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 121
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Incorporation by Reference …………………………………………………………………………….. 121

Citing to a Non-Precedential Case…………………………………………………………………….. 121
ix. DISPOSITION ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 122

General Policy ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 122

Issues in Remand Status When Additional Issues are Remanded by CAVC ……………. 122

Issues that are Perfected but not Certified ………………………………………………………… 122
x. REMANDS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 123

Improper For Clarification of Certain Procedural Matters……………………………………. 123

Improper for Scheduling Hearings ……………………………………………………………………. 123

Inextricably Intertwined Issues ………………………………………………………………………… 123

Incarcerated Appellants ………………………………………………………………………………….. 124

Substance ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 124
xi. DECISION …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 125

TDIU Claims …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 126

Bifurcation of Schedular/Extraschedular …………………………………………………………… 127

Grants …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 127
xii. UNUSUAL SITUATIONS ………………………………………………………………………………………. 127

Panel Cases ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 127

Simultaneously Contested Claims …………………………………………………………………….. 128
xiii. CHECK OUT TO VLJ ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 131

Electronic Routing to VLJ …………………………………………………………………………………. 131

Post-Submission Changes………………………………………………………………………………… 137
IX. ADJUDICATORY BEST PRACTICES …………………………………………………………………………….. 137
i. INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 137
ii. ALL DECISIONS …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 138

Identification of New Claims ……………………………………………………………………………. 138
iii. REMANDS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 138

Remand Efficiency ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 138

VA Opinions and Examinations ………………………………………………………………………… 139
iv. GRANTS …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 143

Identify the Evidence Used to Grant the Claim …………………………………………………… 143
v. DENIALS …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 143

Duty to Notify ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 143

Lay Evidence ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 144

With Simultaneous Remands …………………………………………………………………………… 144

Herbicide Agent Claims …………………………………………………………………………………… 145
X. CASE SIGNING AND VLJ PROCEDURES ……………………………………………………………………… 146
i. CASE REASSIGNMENT ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 146
ii. CASES REQUIRING REVISION ……………………………………………………………………………… 147
iii. DAS …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 147

Evaluation and Feedback ………………………………………………………………………………… 147

Ensuring Accuracy ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 147

Multiple Entries ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 147
iv. PANEL DECISIONS ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 147
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v. Case-specific Handling ………………………………………………………………………………………. 148

Environmental Toxicologist Opinions ……………………………………………………………….. 148
vi. DISPATCH ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 148

Charging………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 148
XI. QUALITY REVIEW – Case review manual ………………………………………………………………….. 148
i. Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 148
ii. PART I: ERRORS ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 148

Guiding principles …………………………………………………………………………………………… 148

Clear and Unmistakable Error (CUE) …………………………………………………………………. 149

Customer Service Error …………………………………………………………………………………… 151

Due Process Violation Errors ……………………………………………………………………………. 158
iii. PART II: PREAUTHORIZED CORRECTIONS …………………………………………………………….. 184

Definition ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 184

Standard of review …………………………………………………………………………………………. 184

Types ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 184
iv. PART III: QUALITY NOTATIONS & DATA GATHERING……………………………………………… 190

Quality notations ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 190

DATA GATHERING – ON HOLD AS OF 2/15/18 ……………………………………………………. 191
v. PART V: ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESSES ………………………………………………………………… 192

Case Review Process ………………………………………………………………………………………. 192

Error Dissemination Process ……………………………………………………………………………. 199

Preauthorized Correction Process ……………………………………………………………………. 206

New Mail Process …………………………………………………………………………………………… 214
XII. DISPATCH …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 215
i. VERIFICATION PROCESS …………………………………………………………………………………….. 215

Review of Claims File ………………………………………………………………………………………. 215
ii. OUTCODE PROCEDURE ……………………………………………………………………………………… 217

Outcoding Process ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 217

Sealing the Record for Final Decisions – Paper Files Only ……………………………………. 224
iii. DISPATCHING …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 225

Date Stamping the Decision …………………………………………………………………………….. 226

The Mailing Process………………………………………………………………………………………… 226

Envelopes ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 227
iv. UNUSUAL OUTCODE AND DISPATCH PROCEDURES ………………………………………………. 227

Re-mailing Decisions/Remands ………………………………………………………………………… 227

Congressional Interest Cases …………………………………………………………………………… 228

Cases Remanded by CAVC ……………………………………………………………………………….. 230

Supplemental Claim Folders…………………………………………………………………………….. 230

VHA Medical Appeals ……………………………………………………………………………………… 230

VHA Co-Pay Appeals ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 233

Educational Appeals ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 234

National Cemetery Administration Appeals ………………………………………………………. 235

Insurance Appeals ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 236

IVM Folders …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 238
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Multi-Decision Cases ………………………………………………………………………………………. 239

Simultaneously Contested Appeals …………………………………………………………………… 240
XIII. POST-DECISIONAL MOTIONS ………………………………………………………………………………….. 242
i. JURISDICTION …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 242
ii. RECONSIDERATION …………………………………………………………………………………………… 242

Legal Authority ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 242

Initial Processing…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 242

Separate Decision …………………………………………………………………………………………… 243

Constituting a Panel for Reconsideration ………………………………………………………….. 243
iii. CUE REVIEW …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 244
iv. CORRECTION OF “HARMLESS ERROR” …………………………………………………………………. 244
v. SUPPLEMENTAL DECISION …………………………………………………………………………………. 244
vi. VACATUR …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 245

Background ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 245

Types ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 245

DAS Work Products ………………………………………………………………………………………… 246
XIV. CUSTOMER SUPPORT ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 246
i. CONTACT WITH PARTIES, REPRESENTATIVES, AND CONGRESSIONAL OFFICES …………. 246

Documenting Contact …………………………………………………………………………………….. 246

E-mail or Phone Contact ……………. 247

Salesforce ………………………………………………… 247
ii. CO-LOCATED VSO ………………………………… 247

OAO Management Support Branch personnel ……………… 248

Senior Counsel …………………………….. 248
iii. HANDLING IMPROPER CONTACTS ……………. 248
XV. The PURPLEBOOK POLICIES AND PROCEDURES…… 248
i. CONFLICTS WITH OTHER AUTHORITI………….. 248

Board Authorities …………………………………… 248

VA Authorities ………………………………………….. 248

Reporting a Conflict …………………………………………… 249
ii. UPDATING AND ALTERING ………………………………. 249

General ………………………………………………………………. 249

Change Request Authority …………………………. 249

Submitting a Request for Change ……………….. 250

Post-Submission Procedures …………………. 251
XVI. TEMPLATE CHANGES ……………………….. 253
i. General …………………………………………………. 253
ii. Change Request Authority …………………. 254

Chief of any Division, Branch, or Office………… 254

Other Individuals …………………………………………. 254
iii. Submitting a Request ……………………… 254

E-mail LRP staff. ………………………… 254

Requests for Change will Include the Following Information: ………………………………. 254

Requests for Removal of a Template will Include the Following Information: ……….. 255
Version 1.0.2 The Purplebook

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