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What the Fowlkes? How Fleeing-Felon Rules Apply to Veterans

By Dale A. Hauser III

Veterans otherwise eligible for disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sometimes run into the “fugitive-felon” rule, denying benefits to anyone who is fleeing to avoid prosecution or confinement and is the subject of a felony warrant. The rule mimics the fugitive-felon rule enforce by the Social Security Administration and, like that rule, ignores the statutory requirement of intent. Because of the VA appeals process, no body of case law rejects VA’s interpretation of the rule. However, a recent Board of Veterans Appeals decision may herald a change in direction.

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