Veterans Tip of the Week – Get a Copy of Your VA Claims File
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A question came up from a veteran, does the VA have a “Secret File” on me? The short answer is NO, but they may have more information than you do upon which they make decisions.
When you file a claim, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA – a subset of the larger VA we all know and love) will start a Claims File or C-File on you. The VA has a Duty to Assist (https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/38/21.1032) Veterans in filing claims. So, when you file a claim (https://www.va.gov/disability/) they will attempt to retrieve your military service personnel and medical records.
Additionally, they will retain everything you submit. So your VA C-File may contain admin documents, DD-214, awards, entrance and separations physicals, C&P exam notes and comments, VA medical records, Private medical records (if you gave the VA permission to retrieve them), military (while in service) medical records, rating decisions, statements in support of a claim documents, Social Security information, and any documentation associated with your claim (application for benefits, rating decisions, denial letters, your code sheet – a summary of your rating percentages and effective dates), and other documents they collected along the way..
The C-File is the “Evidence” the VA uses to make decisions about you, whether or not to deny a claim, to determine rating percentage, to adjudicate and make decisions on pending appeals. So this is a lot of information, none of it SECRET, but it might be more than you have available in your files at home.
To obtain a copy of your file take a look here (https://www.va.gov/FOIA/Requests.asp) for the Freedom of Information request process – scroll to the bottom of the page for a good description and instructions. You are requesting your ENTIRE Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Claims File. To initiate a request you need a cover letter (sample here: https://www.oprm.va.gov/docs/foia/Sample_FOIA_Request.pdf) and a release and consent form (https://www.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA3288.pdf). Then for your VBA C-file, mail to the address on the VA’s website:
Intake Center in Janesville, Wisconsin,
Department of Veterans Affairs – Claims Intake Center
P.O. Box 4444 Janesville, WI 53547-4444
Fax: 844-531-7818 or DID: 608-373-6690
Note: different types of files like a VocRehab file or VA Home Loan File are processed in different places, this is just for your VBA Disability file. Eventually (months, not weeks) your file will come in the mail, likely on a CD. Best of Luck
As always, please feel free to PM me if you have questions regarding you VA Benefits. If I don’t know the answer, we will find it together. #gogetrated
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