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Veterans' Benefits and Issues: Primary Sources

The Veterans' Benefits and Issues Libguide provides an overview of Veterans' Benefits research, Veterans' issues, and information on Veterans' outreach.

Louis L. Biro Law Library

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Accessing Statutes and Regulations Online


The Veterans' Benefits and Issues Primary Source page will identify and briefly discuss the statutes and regulations covering select military servicemembers' and veterans' law for employment, education, death benefits, and disability issues.  The majority of veterans related statutes delegate authority to the VA to pass regulations to administer veterans programs.

For veterans claims legal issues (e.g., disability benefits/education benefits), this guide will identify resources for case law and administrative decisions.  For a collection of major Veterans' statutes and regulations consult the NVLSP'S Federal Veterans Laws, Rules, and Regulations (Catalog Record).

States also pass laws that establish Veterans' Benefits.  For example, Illinois created programs promoting veterans' employment, long-term care for applicable veterans.  Another great program is the Illinois Veterans Grant that will pay for 120 credit hours of education at any state school.  For more information on key Illinois benefits and programs consult the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs book, "State of Illinois Benefits for Veterans."  

Veterans Law: Federal Statutes and Regulations

At the UIC Law Library, patrons can use the United States Code, the Statutes at Large, the United States Code Annotated, and the United States Codes Services to research federal statutes.  If you are also interested in the legislative history of veterans' laws, you can consult the Federal Legislative History Research Libguide, which provides an overview of the legislative history research process and the sources available at the library.  

Military Servicemember and Veterans' law researchers should consult the applicable regulations while confronted with a veterans' federal law issue.  The VA is one of the largest government administrative bodies.  The majority of veterans' law delegates authority to the VA to pass regulations to administer veterans' programs.  The regulations will often provide guidance on administrative procedures, legal standards, and applicable duties.  The John Marshall Law Library patrons can research veteran regulatory law in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and the Federal Register.  

Select statutes and corresponding CFR sections are listed below: 


Veterans Preference: Congress has enacted legislation that provides federal government hiring preference to veterans.  The preference is given for many federal jobs.  For full details consult the statutes or consider consulting a secondary source (e.g., Feds Hire Vet's Veterans' Preference website).

U.S.C. Section: 5 U.S.C. 2108
Enabling Act: Veterans' Preference Act of 1944, Pub. L. No. 78-359, 58 Stat. 387
C.F.R. Section: 5 C.F.R. Chapter 1, Part 211-Veteran Preference


(1) Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD):

U.S.C. Section: 38 U.S.C. ch. 30
Enabling Act: Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, Pub. L. No. 78-346, 58 Stat. 284
C.F.R. Section: 38 C.F.R. Part 21, Subpart K- MGIB Active Duty

(2) Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)

U.S.C. Section: 38 U.S.C. § 3012 - Basic Educational Assistance Entitlement for Service in the Selected Reserve
Enabling Act: Veterans' Educational Assistance Act of 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-525, 98 Stat. 2492
C.F.R. Section:  38 C.F.R. Part 21, Subpart L-MGIB Selected Reserve

(3) Post 9/11 GI Bill

U.S.C. Section: 38 U.S.C. ch. 33
Enabling Act: Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110–252, 122 Stat. 2357
C.F.R. Section: 38 C.F.R. Part 21, Subpart P- Post 9/11 GI Bill

(4) Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)

U.S.C. Section: 38 U.S.C. ch. 32
Enabling Act: Department of Defense Authorization Act, 1981, Pub. L. No 96-1115 , 94 Stat. 1115
C.F.R. Section: 38 C.F.R. Part 21, Subpart G- VEAP

(5)Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Voc Rehab)

U.S.C. Section:  38 U.S.C. ch. 31
Enabling Act: Veterans' Rehabilitation and Education Amendments of 1980, Pub. L. No. 96–466, 94 Stat. 2172
C.F.R. Section:  38 C.F.R. Chapter 1, Part 21- Vocational Rehabilitation and Education

Death Benefits

(1) Burial in a VA National Cemetery

U.S.C. Section: 38 U.S.C. ch. 24
Enabling Act: National Cemeteries Act of 1973, Pub. L. No. 93-43, 87 Stat. 75
C.F.R. Section: 38 C.F.R. Chapter 1,Part 38- National Cemeteries of the Department of Veterans Affairs

(2) Burial in an Army National Cemetery (e.g., Arlington National Cemetery)

U.S.C. Section: 24 U.S.C. ch. 7
Enabling Act: An Act to Provide for Selection of Superintendents of National Cemeteries from Meritorious and Trustworthy Members of the Armed Forces who have been Disabled in the Line of Duty for Active Field Service, Pub. L. No. 80-452, 62 Stat. 84
C.F.R. Section: 32 C.F.R. Ch. 5, Part 553- Army National Cemeteries

(3) Payment of Burial Benefits

U.S.C. Section: 38 U.S.C. Ch. 23
Enabling Act: Veterans' Benefits Act, Pub. L. No. 85-857, 72 Stat. 1105  (establishing burial benefits payments for certain eligible veterans); National Cemeteries Act of 1973, Pub. L. No. 93-43, 87 Stat. 75 (paying for private funeral expenses for veterans who died from a service-connected disability).
C.F.R. Section: 38 C.F.R. Ch. 1, Part 3-Adjudication, Subpart B-Burial Benefits

(4) Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

U.S.C. Section: 38 U.S.C. §§ 1310-1319
Enabling Act: Survivors Benefits Act, Pub. L. No. 84-881, 70 Stat. 857
C.F.R. Section: 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.5, 3.20-3.25

Disability Benefits

 (1) Service-Connected Disability Compensation

U.S.C. Section: 38 U.S.C. ch. 11
Enabling Act: Veterans' Benefits Act, Pub. L. No. 85-857, 72 Stat. 1119
C.F.R. Section: 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.4, 3.303-3.344

(2) Veterans Pension- Non-Service Connected Disability 

U.S.C. Section: 38 U.S.C.  ch. 15
Enabling Act: Veterans' Benefits Act, Pub. L. No. 85-857, 72 Stat. 1119
C.F.R. Section: 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.3, 3.271-3.277

 (3) Military Disability - Medicallly Separated or Retired

U.S.C. Section: 10 U.S.C. ch. 61
Enabling Act: Amendments of Titles 10, 14, and 32, U.S. Code, to Codify Recent Military Law, and to Improve the Code, Pub. L. No. 85-861, 

VA Administrative Appeals Process

(1) Board of Veterans Appeals Administrative Appeals Statutes and Regulations

U.S.C. Section: 38 U.S.C. ch. 71; 38 U.S.C. § 501
Enabling Act: An Act  Emprove Due Process in the Consideration and Final Adjudication of Disputed Claims for Veterans' Benefits by Providing that the Claimant shall be Furnished a Brief Statement of the Facts and Law Applicable to the Case Appealed and Afforded an Opportunity to Reply thereto, Pub. L.. No. 87-666, 76 Stat. 553; Department of Veterans Affairs Codification Act, Pub. L. No. 102-83, 105 Stat. 378.
C.F.R. Section: 38 C.F.R. Chapter 1, Part 19- Board of Veterans' Appeals: Appeals Regulations; 38 C.F.R. Chapter 1, Part 20- Board of Veterans' Appeals: Rules of Practice

(2) United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

U.S.C. Section: 38 U.S.C. ch. 72
Enabling Act: Veterans' Judicial Review Act, Pub. L. No. 100-687, 102 Stat. 4113 
Court Rules: Rules of Practice and Procedure


(3) United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

U.S.C. Section: 38 U.S.C. § 7292
Enabling Act: Veterans' Judicial Review Act, Pub. L. No. 100-687, 102 Stat. 4120
Court Rules: Rules of Practice and Procedure


Veterans Law: Executive orders

The President also passes executive orders that promote veterans' benefits programs.  Executive orders are published in the Federal Register.  The National Archives maintains an online executive order disposition index, arranged by Presidential term.  The following are a few key executive orders on veterans programs:

1) Exec. Order No. 13625, 77 Fed. Reg. 54783 (August 31, 2012) (increasing veterans, service members, and military families access to psychological care).
2) Exec. Order No. 13360, 69 Fed. Reg. 62549 (October 26, 2004) (promoting government contracts with business owned by veterans with service-connected disabilities).

Board of Veterans Affairs Decisions

The Board of Veterans Appeals releases redacted disability claim decisions.  These decisions are useful to see how the BVA has decided cases for specific diagnostic codes, types of administrative errors, and the VA's interpretation of statutes and regulations.

  • Boards of Veterans' Appeals Decisions.  Researchers can search BVA opinions on the VA's BVA decisions website.  John Marshall faculty, students, and staff can also search Westlaw's FMIL-BVA database for BVA decisions.  


US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

  • Search USCAVC Decisions and Opinions Page.  The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC) reviews cases appealed from the BVA.  This USCAVC resource allows a researcher to access prior USCAVC decisions and opinions.  These decisions are useful because the case precedent can be cited in veterans' claims documents.  John Marshall faculty, students, and staff can also search Westlaw's FMIL-VA database for USCAVC decisions and opinions.

Federal Circuit Court of Appeals

  • The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinions & Orders Search.  A researcher can access appeals from the USCAVC through the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Website.  In the origin list box, select the CAVC.  The opinions search function is limited to retrieving by a case name, number or date, making it difficult to search for cases with similar legal or factual issues.  
    •   Search Strategy: On Google Scholar, it is possible to keyword search a portion of Federal Circuit Court of Appeals decisions and limit the cases to CAVC decisions.  Go to Google Scholar --> select the Legal Documents radio button --> Click Select Court Links--> Select Federal Circuit-->Click Done--> [Enter search terms] AND ("Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims" OR "court of veterans appeals").  
  • Westlaw's CTAF database (JMLS faculty, students, or staffs).  John Marshall faculty, students and staff with Westlaw access can keyword search the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinions & Orders.  Keyword searching can include the operator co(CAVC) to limit results to appeals taken from the USCAVC to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.  

United States Supreme Court

  • The United States Reports (Catalog Record).  The JMLS library has the United States Reports, the official Supreme Court reporter.  JMLS faculty, students, and staff can also search the Court's decisions on Westlaw (SCT) or LexisNexis (U.S. Supreme Court Cases, Lawyers' Edition).  
    • Search Strategy:while searching Supreme Court cases on a proprietary database (e.g., Westlaw) or a free website (e.g. Oyez), a researcher can enter [search terms] AND ("board of veterans' appeals" OR "veterans' claims") to retrieve veterans claims that originated in the BVA.  
  • Oyez's Unofficial United States Supreme Court Decisions.  The public can search Supreme Court Decisions on Oyez's page.