14.1. The VA Receives the Claim
Once a claim is received, VA must :
- review the claim, supporting documents, and oral testimony in a liberal manner to identify and adjudicate all reasonably raised claims. See EF v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 324, 326 (1991).
- The VA is required to apply all relevant law in adjudicating the claim even though not raised by the appellant. See Shockley v. West, 11 Vet. App. 208, 214 (1998); see also Collier v. Derwinski, 2 Vet. App. 247, 251 (1992) (holding that although the appellant had not filed the specific form asking for individual unemployability, an informal claim was raised because he had continually stated he was unable to work due to his service-connected mental disorder); Akles v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 118, 121 (holding that VA was obliged to infer a claim for special monthly compensation where it "may be applicable and the veteran does not place his eligibility at issue").
- Upon review of the claim, establish that such a review "reasonably reveals that the claimant is seeking a particular benefit, the Board is required to adjudicate the issue of the claimant's entitlement to such a benefit or, if appropriate, to remand the issue to the RO for development and adjudication of the issue." Suttmann v. Brown, 5 Vet. App. 127, 132 (1993); see generally Servello v. Derwinski, 3 Vet. App. 196, 198200 (1992) (discussing evidence that could show "a belief" by the veteran that he was entitled to TDIU). Szemraj v. Principi, 357 F.3d 1370, 1373 (Fed.Cir.2004) (stating that "with respect to all pro se pleadings, [the Board and the Secretary are required to] give a sympathetic reading to the veteran's filings" (citing Roberson v. Principi, 251 F.3d 1378, 1384 (Fed. Cir. 2001); Norris v. West, 12 Vet. App. 413, 417 (1999) (Board must "review the claim, supporting documents, and oral testimony in a liberal manner to identify and adjudicate all reasonably raised claims"); Suttman v. Brown, 5 Vet. App. 127, 132 (1993) ("In determining whether a particular claim has been raised, the [Board] must consider 'all documents or oral testimony submitted prior to the [Board] decision' and 'review all issues which are reasonably raised from a liberal reading' of such documents and oral testimony." (quoting EF v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 324, 326 (1991))).
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