70 Am. U. L. Rev. 1381 (2021).
* This Article is written by three clinical professors: Professor Angela K. Drake is the Director of the Veterans Clinic at the University of Missouri School of Law in Columbia, Missouri; Professor Yelena Duterte is an Assistant Professor of Law and the Director of the Veterans Legal Clinic at UIC John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois; and Professor Stacey-Rae Simcox is the Director of the Veterans Law Institute and Veterans Advocacy Clinic at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida. The authors would like to thank law students John Middleton at the University of Missouri School of Law, Matthew Sell at Stetson University College of Law, and Taylor Kollmansberger at UIC John Marshall Law School, and the Law Review staff at American University Washington College of Law.
This Article continues last year’s in-depth review of veterans law cases decided by the Federal Circuit, published by the American University Law Review. In the year 2020, the Federal Circuit further clarified the law applicable to veterans cases, including the parameters of the class action device and the need for robust analysis in cases challenging agency delay and inaction. The court significantly expanded veterans’ ability to challenge regulations and manual provisions directly in the Federal Circuit. It created new law with regard to the presumption of competency applicable to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) examiners and explored the parameters of VA’s duty to sympathetically read claims. The Federal Circuit also issued important decisions regarding “effective dates” impacting the amount of money veterans can receive where claims linger for years in the adjudicative process. Finally, the court confirmed the validity of VA’s definition of willful and persistent misconduct.