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[Federal Register: September 14, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 179)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 55461-55462]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



38 CFR Part 19

RIN 2900-AK14

Appeals Regulations: Title for Members of the Board of Veterans' 

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: This document amends the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) 
Appeals Regulations to provide that a Member of the Board of Veterans' 
Appeals (Board) may also be known as a ``veterans law judge.''

DATES: Effective Date: September 14, 2000.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steven L. Keller, Senior Deputy Vice 
Chairman, Board of Veterans' Appeals, Department of Veterans Affairs, 
810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20420 (202-565-5978).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Board of Veterans' Appeals (Board) is an 
administrative body that decides appeals from denials of claims for 
veterans' benefits, after an opportunity for a hearing. There are 
currently 59 Board ``members,'' who decide 35,000 to 40,000 such 
appeals per year.
    Board members other than the Chairman are appointed by the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, with the approval of the President of 
the United States, 38 U.S.C. 7101A(a)(1), and must be licensed 
attorneys, 38 U.S.C. 7101A(a)(2). Board members are compensated at 
rates equivalent to the rates payable to Administrative Law Judges. 38 
U.S.C. 7101A(b).
    Throughout the Executive Branch, individuals who decide appeals at 
the administrative level after the opportunity for a hearing--as do 
Board members--are known as ``judges.'' E.g., ``Administrative Law 
Judges,'' 5 U.S.C. 3105; ``Administrative Appeals Judges'' at the 
Benefits Review Board at the Department of Labor, 20 CFR 801.2; 
``Administrative Judges'' at The Financial Assistance Appeals Board of 
the Department of Energy, 10 CFR 1024.3; ``Administrative Judges'' at 
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 29 CFR 1614.109; 
``Administrative Judges'' at the Personnel Appeals Board of the General 
Accounting Office, 4 CFR 28.3; ``Administrative Judges'' at the Merit 
Systems Protection Board, 5 CFR 1201.4; ``Administrative Judges'' at 
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 14 CFR 1259.404; and 
``Administrative Judges'' at the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Small 
Business Administration, 13 CFR 134.101. See also ``Administrative 
Appeals Judges'' at the Office of Hearings and Appeals of the Social 
Security Administration, 20 CFR 416.924(g) (decide appeals from 
decisions of administrative law judges, but without the opportunity for 
a hearing); ``Immigration Judges'' at the Immigration and 
Naturalization Service in the Department of Justice, 8 CFR 1.1(l) 
(initial decisions in immigration cases).
    This final rule will permit Board members to be known as ``veterans 
law judges.'' This title will convey a Board member's function to 
veterans more accurately than the term ``member.'' In addition, the 
title will enhance the confidence of veterans in the administrative 
appellate process by providing recognition that appeals in

[[Page 55462]]

the VA system are adjudicated by legal professionals, as are benefit 
appeals in other administrative systems.
    This final rule concerns agency organization, procedure or practice 
and, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, is exempt from notice and comment 
requirements. In addition, because this final rule is not a substantive 
rule, but rather a rule of agency practice, it is not subject to the 
delayed effective date provisions of 5 U.S.C. 553(d).
    This final rule has been reviewed by the Office of Management and 
Budget under Executive Order 12866.
    The Secretary hereby certifies that this final rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 
as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601-
612. This rule will affect VA beneficiaries and will not affect small 
    Therefore, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(b), this final rule is exempt 
from the initial and final regulatory flexibility analyses requirement 
of sections 603 and 604.

List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 19

    Administrative practice and procedure, Claims, Veterans.

    Approved: July 5, 2000.
Togo D. West, Jr.,
Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 38 CFR part 19 is amended 
as set forth below:


    1. The authority citation for part 19 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  38 U.S.C. 501(a), unless otherwise noted.

    2. Section 19.2 is revised to read as follows:

Sec. 19.2  Composition of the Board; Titles.

    (a) The Board consists of a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Deputy Vice 
Chairmen, Members and professional, administrative, clerical and 
stenographic personnel. Deputy Vice Chairmen are Members of the Board 
who are appointed to that office by the Secretary upon the 
recommendation of the Chairman.
    (b) A member of the Board (other than the Chairman) may also be 
known as a ``veterans law judge.'' An individual designated as an 
acting member pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 7101(c)(1) may also be known as an 
``acting veterans law judge.''

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501(a), 512, 7101(a))

[FR Doc. 00-23567 Filed 9-13-00; 8:45 am]