WARMS: The VA Employee Bible

On March 18, 2014 the Department of Veterans Affairs updated their Web Automated Reference Material System.

The Web Automated Reference Material System, often referred to as WARMS, is considered the “bible” for VA employees.

WARMS teaches VA employees how to dispose of issues including, but not limited to, Compensation and Pension.  The manual summarizes the United States Code and the Code of Federal Regulations, and points to different types of case law.

WARMS can be a valuable source of information if you know how to navigate the manual and you know what you’re looking for.

The VA’s “bible” is not, however, law.  WARMS is more like an interpretation of the law (the United States Code) and a shorthand for the Department’s implementation of the law (Code of Federal Regulations).

So while I would never rely solely on WARMS to overturn a denial or argue an issue, the manual is still a rich source of information on how the VA operates.

But back to March 18, 2014.

The VA updated Part 5, subpart ii, Chapter 3 of WARMS.  The first section of this Chapter is titled Ratings for Aid and Attendance (A&A) Allowance.

The VA tells its employees that to be eligible for A&A an applicant must be so helpless as to require the aid of another person to “perform the personal functions required in everyday living, also called activities of daily living.”

For some reason, the VA used new language for activities of daily living.  ADL’s are now called “personal functions.”

But to what end?  What could possibly be the purpose of referring to ADL’s as personal functions?  Is the point to obfuscate eligibility requirements?  I don’t think that’s the reason.

Personal functions implies some type of action by the applicant.  Specifically, some type of physical action.  Whether that action is bathing or dressing or transferring, the VA wants to limit eligibility to physical limitations.

But the Department of Veterans Affairs is wrong.  Eligibility for Aid and Attendance can be secured through physical or mental limitations.  But the VA doesn’t want to award Aid and Attendance benefits on the basis of mental limitations.

The VA is out of step with current definitions of ADL’s.  The VA’s insistence on considering only physical activities of daily living is antiquated and, frankly, dangerous to the health and safety of applicants.

Someday in the future this will change.  The activities of daily living associated with cognitive impairment will have their day.