9.6. Board Hearings
Pursuant to 38 C.F.R. § 3.103(c)(2), a hearing officer has two distinct duties while conducting a hearing: (1) "to explain fully the issues;" and (2) to "suggest the submission of evidence which the claimant may have overlooked and which would be of advantage to the claimant's position." Bryant v. Shinseki, 23 Vet. App. 488, 492 (2010) (per curiam) (quoting 38 C.F.R. § 3.103(c)(2) (added emphasis omitted)). Nothing in the regulation requires the hearing officer "to preadjudicate or otherwise weigh conflicting evidence prior to or at the hearing." Id. at 493. Rather, the hearing officer must "fully explain the issues still outstanding that are relevant and material to substantiating the claim" and "suggest that a claimant submit evidence on an issue material to substantiating the claim when the record is missing any evidence on that issue or when the testimony at the hearing raises an issue for which there is no evidence in the record." Id. at 496.
"It is the responsibility of the [Hearing Officer] to explain fully the issues and suggest the submission of evidence which the claimant may have overlooked and which would be of advantage to the claimant's position." 38 C.F.R. § 3.103(c)(2); Robinson v. Peake, 21 Vet. App. 545, 552 (2008) (Board must address issues raised by the appellant or reasonably by the record). There is prejudice when a claimant is not given a hearing before all Board members who adjudicated his claim and credibility is at issue. Arneson v. Shinseki, 24 Vet. App. at 379, 387-89 (2011). If the hearing officer failed to fulfill his duties, the Court must determine whether any resulting error was prejudicial to the appellant. Id. at 49798; see 38 U.S.C. § 7261(b)(2) (providing that the Court shall take due account of the rule of prejudicial error); Mayfield v. Nicholson, 19 Vet. App. 103, 116 (2005) (stating that the key to determining whether an error is prejudicial is the effect of the error on the essential fairness of the adjudication), rev'd on other grounds, 444 F.3d 1328 (Fed. Cir. 2006).