Elements of a Claim

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Before the VA must assist in developing evidence, the claimant must present a reasonably possible claim. Generally, claimants will receive VA development assistance unless they are legally ineligible for the benefit (for example, the claimant doesn’t have qualifying service) or the claim is inherently incredible. When the claim is submitted, the advocate should present reasons why benefits should be granted and cite appropriate statutes, regulations, and the VA’s Adjudication Procedures Manual M21-1. If the VA decides that the claim is not reasonably possible or decides to deny the benefit, the VA must provide its reasons for that decision. In particular, the VA must explain how it reached any medical conclusions.