Many of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regulations on compensating disabled veterans are outdated, disorganized, and unclear, making them difficult for Veterans, employees, and veterans’ organizations to find, understand, and apply. Over the past decade, VA has rewritten all 280 regulations in 38 CFR part 3, publishing them for public comment in 20 rulemaking packages. VA’s approach to rewriting its compensation and pension (C&P) benefits regulations is holistic in that it encompasses all factors that impact the ease with which the regulation can be located, read, understood, and applied. In addition, our approach ensures that the regulation is consistent with statutory intent (as reflected by case law other legal authorities) and current VA policies. VA also obtained more public input, and at an earlier stage, than traditional rulemaking.
The genesis of VA’s Compensation & Pension Regulation Rewrite Project was a 2001 recommendation by the Secretary’s VA Claims Processing Task Force to “rewrite and organize the [compensation and pension] Regulations in a logical and coherent manner, incorporating regulatory materials now found in manuals as well as binding court precedents.”
Our holistic approach has been recognized by others within VA who have performed large scale rewrites of regulations, including VA’s Freedom of Information Act regulations 75 FR 63120-63139 (Oct. 14, 2010) and VA’s fiduciary regulations (RIN 2900-AO53, under legal review within VA).
The VA Rewrite Project has combined experts from multiple disciplines within the Department and in the NGO community. VA attorneys who defend our regulations in court challenges, adjudication staff who decide several cases each day in our VA Regional Offices, and the veterans service organizations who represent disabled veterans have all contributed to this project.