What Is a VA Claims File?
A VA claims file, often called a c-file, is a collection of records kept by the VA in connection to your VA disability claims. When a veteran first files a claim for benefits, the VA will request the veteran’s service records and any medical records relevant to the claim. This is the beginning of a VA claims file. As your claim progresses and if you file more claims, your claims file will grow.
What Is In My VA Claims File?
The VA has a “duty to assist” claimants in their VA claims. This duty to assist can take several forms throughout the course of the veteran’s appeal.
When a veteran files a claim, the VA has a duty to assist the veteran by obtaining their service personnel and medical records, VA treatment records (if applicable), and any other government records that would substantiate the claim. However, the VA’s duty to assist can be discontinued if “the evidence obtained indicates that there is no reasonable possibility that further assistance would substantiate the claim.”
Due to the VA’s duty to assist, a veteran’s claims file should contain their service records and any VA medical records that are relevant to their claim. The VA will make a reasonable effort to obtain private medical records. However, the responsibility of ensuring the VA receives those records is ultimately up to the veteran.
Additionally, a claims file will contain any decisions that are issued by the VA, any letters sent to the veteran, and any correspondence or evidence that the veteran submits to the VA. A claims file will also contain any procedural records from the VA in connection with the veteran’s case, such as records of transferring the veteran’s file.
How Big are Claims Files?
Claims files can be anywhere from dozens to thousands of pages long, and the length varies from veteran to veteran. Generally, the longer a case has been pending, the larger the file due to the amount of evidence and appeals involved in the case. When a claim is filed, the claims file is typically small due to the lack of evidence and materials that have been gathered at that point.
Why Does My Claims File Matter?
Your claims file matters because the VA decides your claims based on the contents of the file. If you are denied in an initial rating decision after you file a claim, and you file a Notice of Disagreement and choose to have a Decision Review Officer review your case, the Officer will look at your entire claims file and make a new decision on your claim. Similarly, if you appeal your case to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, the Veterans Law Judge that decides your case at the Board will review your claims file to determine if you are entitled to the benefits sought on appeal.
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