On January 4, 2013, the Federal Circuit issued a published opinion in Harris v. Shinseki regarding what constitutes an informal claim for benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The opinion can be accessed at Harris v. Shinseki.
The Federal Circuit ruled that the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) failed to properly consider the legal standard set forth in Moody v. Principi, 360 F.3d 1306 (Fed. Cir. 2004), Szemraj v. Principi, 357 F.3d 1370 (Fed. Cir. 2004), and Roberson v. Principi, 251 F.3d 1378 (Fed. Cir. 2001). Under that line of cases, the Federal Circuit held that pro se filings must be read liberally and any ambiguities in those filings should be resolved in the veterans favor. Because the CVAC failed to apply that standard in their 2011 decision, the Federal Circuit vacated the prior decision with remand instructions.