Benefit of the Doubt

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To ensure that the system favors veterans, VA law states that a veteran is entitled to the benefit of the doubt in the adjudication of his or her claim. This means that the VA can deny the claim only if the weight of the evidence (more than half) is against the claim. If the evidence for and against the claim is evenly balanced, then the claimant should be given the benefit of the doubt and the claim should be granted.

Advocates do not need to submit enough evidence to win overwhelmingly—just enough so that there is a balance of evidence for and against the veteran’s claim. Thus, a good advocate should evaluate the evidence and explain why the majority of the evidence is not against the claim. By doing so, the advocate can help the VA apply the benefit of the doubt rule to the specific claim.