THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 4864, the "Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000." The Act reaffirms and clarifies the duty of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to assist claimants in developing evidence pertinent to their claims for VA benefits. It eliminates the previous requirement that a claim be well-grounded before VA's duty to assist arises. The Act requires the Secretary to make reasonable efforts to assist a claimant in obtaining evidence to substantiate his or her claim unless it is clear that no reasonable possibility exists that the Secretary's assistance would aid in substantiating the claim. As under current law, the Secretary must consider the entire record of evidence, and when there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence regarding an issue material to the determination of a matter, the Secretary must give the benefit of the doubt to the claimant.
Veterans seeking benefits from this Government are deserving of all reasonable assistance that VA has to offer. The benefits administered by the Secretary are a means by which the Nation expresses its profound gratitude for the many sacrifices our veterans have made to protect and defend our freedom. Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all veterans, is an especially appropriate time for us to ensure that we will continue to pay our debts to these men and women. This Act demonstrates to veterans and to all those currently serving in our military and to those who may serve in the future, that America honors its commitments to those who have served. I am very pleased to approve this new law.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE, November 9, 2000.
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