This eBook will teach you how to get C-Files (paper and electronic) from the VA Regional Office.
How to Get your VA C-File


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deanbrt

Foia Request

20 posts in this topic

I am so mad right now I can barely write this. Aug. 17 of last year I submitted a request for copies of information in my C file of information from April to that point to my VARO. At that time, I had a remanded appeal from August 2010 and IU claim from early 2011 there. It became apparent they were treating the request like a claim and I became concerned there were holding off the decision process for it. On Nov. 22 and Dec. 12 (after I had seen the Aug. 17 FOIA request still showing as a claim) to two separate fax numbers at the VARO I faxed in letters rescinding any outstanding FOIA request I might have that would impede the decision process..

I started seeing on Ebenefits "noclaim information is available at this time" . At the end of December I was advised that a decision had been made (Dec. 20). Dec. 30 via phone from the VARO I was told it was in Authorization, then would go to my POA for review, then back to them and then I would be notiified. I have some thought what that might mean but we'll see.

Friday on EBenefits under Claims an FOIA request shows up for Jan. 5. I MADE NO SUCH REQUEST. I immediately faxed them that I had rescinded any FOIA fax request and made no request Jan. 5. I copied all of the previous faxes with it. I again rescinded any outstanding FOIA request

I am aware that a claim can hold up everything and very concerned this action is deliberate to do that. I received a letter in the mail from the VARO Saturday confirming the Jan. 5 FOIA request. I NEVER MADE THE REQUEST! Am I being paranoid?

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Is it possible that you have a common name and you and someone else w/the same name are being mixed up?? Just a thought.

pr

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No, my name is uncommon. I cannot help but feel it may be a malicious attempt to further delay. I made no such request Dec. 5. Quite the reverse. I had sent them an emphatic letter November 22 via fax rescinding any FOIA request on my behalf that might impede that I again reiterated via fax Dec. 12. I faxed a letter to the VARO manager yesterday requesting an explanation.

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One other question. Is an FOIA request always treated as a claim and delays everything until processed?

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Hello Deanbrt,

I am sorry for your delays at the VA, but do want to bring something up.

I do not believe that the VA will treat your FOIA as a claim and do the usual stalling techniques that all of us are aware of. The FOIA has not given you an oppurtunity to participate in an award of benefits thru the claims process. A FOIA is a specific request by law to search for and deliver any records that you were specific in your written FOIA request. All depts of government have a FOIA officer that will oversee the legal request that person has initiated. It appears what you asked the VA to do is to search for your written documents that should exist (unless shreddergate is still on).

The only problem I see with a FOIA request is that it may allow your file to be moved from whatever position and whatever state it is to search those records. I personally believe that while you are waiting in a decision mode of VA that everything should be left alone until after a decision to keep your position and file inorder so that the VARO decision teams/DRO can adjudicate it.

I have over 15 FOIAs to numerous agencies and only a couple of them produced records at all. It usually sent me on a wild goose chase and I never got to catch one and eat it for dinner. I mean Atomic Energy commission, US ARMY, US ARMY FORT DIETRICH, EPA, and so on ...... FOIAs to the VA are still a tool that can be used to force information to be released. However the person or dept giving the information out can still " miss" some evidence or "overlook" it.

Case in point. I FOIA the Atomic Energy Commission for anything , all documents pertaining to SM1A Nuclear Reactor, Fort Greely , Alaska. They replied back they have no documents or knowledge of an SM1A Nuclear reactor at Fort Greely....... HUH...... I personally assigned the quarters to the personnel that TDY from Atomic Energy Commission that had to work on the reactor while it decided to have a runaway resulting in its entombment while I was there in 1971-73. I have plenty of other dept . thankfully that I have all the information I need. Another case in point is I have FOIA for spraying records thru the National Records giving the form numbers.....they are posted in archives here at Hadit under AO and latest AO thread. No luck.

My point is though the law under FOIA says they are to turn over such request and must make all available efforts to comply, it still can fall thru the cracks and be "nonexistant". You are not the first to have FOIA problems and I do feel that eventually you will be able to receive what you have asked for, it may slow your decision process down. The VA can still move your file for anything that needs to be look at or pulled from the file and that is where the problems lie when the Veteran does anything during the process, that may make someone open it other than the decision officer. I am sorry for a lengthy post but we probably should do a FOIA topic as it is a tool that can be used . For me it has not worked as I wanted it too because of sensitive data which will keep any FOIA request underwraps....period. Hang in there and be patient. Get your decision so you can move to the next step and address any errors or discrepancies then. NEVER GIVE UP. God Bless, C.C.

Edited by Capt.Contaminate

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Capt. Contaminate. First, thanks for the detailed response. smile.png Here is how my claims section reads as of this evening in Ebenefits.

Open Claims

Date/Type of Claim Claim Status Updates 12/05/2011

Freedom of Information Act / Privacy Act Request Claim Received

As you can see, they are treating it as a claim. I never made any FOIA request on the above date. Again, I had one from Aug. 17 for copies from my c file from April to that date. I rescinded that request via fax to two separate numbers at my VARO on Nov 22 and then Dec. 12 after becoming concerned it might cause delay. This claim for Dec. 5 just appeared Friday. I immediately sent another fax to the VARO center manager with copies of all the documents again rescinding any FOIA request. But I am getting more skeptical by the minute. Why is it being treated like a claim, which can slow down or stop everything?. That is why I faxed them Nov. 22 and Dec.12 . Why does it just show up Friday and my IU claim has NEVER shown up on Ebenefits. I NEVER MADE THIS REQUEST......

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x

x

x

I made a FOIA request for a copy of my claims file Janruary 4, 2011. In September 2011, the RO sent me a Letter to say they were baglogged, working on it --and would get to it as soon as they were able. The Letter also stated "there is no need for you to contact us again regarding this request. I have since used the IRIS to check the Status: one time they said it would be forthcoming in 30 days, the next request they told me they did not get a response from my VARO. I have submitted my 3rd IRIS request for my C-File and waiiting ... A whole year, and still no answer. My RO was also very negilent about responding the the BVA Remand, so much time had passed that I withdrew my claim without penalty over a year ago, and they never responded to that either/ Starnge because other chanels seem to be working, like Chapter 35 benefits. I have no idea what's going on either!! ~Wings

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  • Hello All Hope All Is Well. I liked all of you have made request from OIG ,General Counsel, amendment of record to General Counsel.VISN . My Point is this they all have stated to address your concerns FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT. And I have assurred them to include Regional Counsel and General Counsel see you in Court Counseler. They are very much aware of there short and long commings but just another avenue to redirect or deter your effortts.

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Wings. think about it. One year to simply make a copy of your c file. My fear is that they made yours and mine a "claim" so they could delay work on anything else, like our appeal. I was told in December a claim has to be resolved before the appeal can process and that is my fear with this new FOIA "claim" that appeared on my Ebenefits Friday.

Mcafee, if I understand your posting correctly you are saying this is a known issue and recommending me contact the OIG. I have copied Steven Keller, Executive in Charge for BVA on all of the documentation as well as one of my senators over the past few months.I have requested from the service center manager Friday at the VARO an explanation of the Dec. 5 claim and if it appears to me it is falsified I will contact the OIG. I have the impression you may be someone in authority...

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A FOIA request is always given an end product/ EP/ claim number for tracking purposes to monitor thre " timeliness" and to make sure that the request is done. Yes your claim will be pulled from wherever it is at and be put with the multiple other FOIA requests. Best bet is to let the claim ride and then get a copy after the decision OR get a copy before you file. Otherwise, it is a crap shoot to Ask for your file whole you have a claim pending. Jmho

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"A FOIA request is always given an end product/ EP/ claim number for tracking purposes to monitor thre " timeliness" and to make sure that the request is done. Yes your claim will be pulled from wherever it is at and be put with the multiple other FOIA requests. Best bet is to let the claim ride and then get a copy after the decision OR get a copy before you file. Otherwise, it is a crap shoot to Ask for your file whole you have a claim pending. Jmho"

And that is why I cancelled my Aug 17 FOIA request Nov. 22 and Dec. 12 via faxes to two separate VARO fax numbers, only to see a "claim" for FOIA dated Dec. 5 appear Friday that I never requested.....

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Hello All,,,,,,, Ok ,,,,, I know what all other dept other than VA have done to me on FOIA request. I can accept the eneptness of the dept in question ,not giving me what I request. Got plenty of those " sorry we do not have" , "perhaps if you will check with"....blah, blah, blah..... letters.

With the VA if a Veteran is requesting Cfile and or information on a piece of evidence , I cannot follow how it can be deemed a claim as there is no diagnostic code assigned to it to formerly and legally make it a claim. It still may slow the process for the FOIA request but I cannot see in the regulations what makes it a claim and legally to be called one has to have a diagnostic code assigned to it.

Hopefully some of our other Veterans who have the answers will chime in. My gut call at the moment is that FOAI will not be a claim but assigned a formal request of record type search that has protocall and law as to how it is looked for and who looked and discovered the resultive evidence and material record as stated in the FOAI and in alot of cases............. what was not discovered from the resultive evidence and material record. Ok...... Maybe we can get some more answers from others besides myself who have used the FOIA to gather important documents and records for our claims. NEVER GIVE UP. God Bless. C.C.

Edited by Capt.Contaminate

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I don't if or how this would apply here but, I requested my SMR's from the NPRC about a year ago. Now I have an appeal on a claim with the VA as well as another claim. I got my SMR's from NPRC and they also sent me a letter stating that the VA would send me what they had. About two months later I got the copies of my SMR's the VA had from them. I never received a letter stating that the request would be considered another claim. Also, the VA did not have all of my SMR's in their possession.

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Hello All Hope All Is Well. Ibelieve this may shed some light to LAW. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode05/usc_sec_05_00000552---a000-.html

(1) Civil Remedies.— Whenever any agency

(A) makes a determination under subsection (d)(3) of this section not to amend an individual’s record in accordance with his request, or fails to make such review in conformity with that subsection;

(B) refuses to comply with an individual request under subsection (d)(1) of this section;

<a name="g_1_C">© fails to maintain any record concerning any individual with such accuracy, relevance, timeliness, and completeness as is necessary to assure fairness in any determination relating to the qualifications, character, rights, or opportunities of, or benefits to the individual that may be made on the basis of such record, and consequently a determination is made which is adverse to the individual; or

(D) fails to comply with any other provision of this section, or any rule promulgated thereunder, in such a way as to have an adverse effect on an individual,

the individual may bring a civil action against the agency, and the district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction in the matters under the provisions of this subsection.

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My next step would be to report it to OIG.....

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Deanbirt, I may be in the same situation you are in. Only time will tell. I submitted a written request to view my C-file back in July 2011 at the Atlanta RO. After waiting 3 months and receiving no reply I called the VA 1-800 number as was told they would check on it. About two weeks later I received a letter from the Atlanta VARO advising I would be scheduled for an appointment to view my file within the near future. I have not heard anymore about my appointment since that time.

In late October 2011 I submitted a new disability claim to the Atlanta VARO and followed up with all of my evidence in November 2011. I received a letter from the VARO acknowleging receipt of my claim but I have not received the duty to assist letter or any other documents. After reading Captain Contaminate's reply to you I am now worried that my earlier request to view my c-file may be causing a delay in the processing of my new disability claim. I am thinking about advising the VARO to disregard my request to view my C-file at this time and to process my new claim without delay. I will be following the replies you receive and your progress with the VA. I wish you well.

Georgiapapa

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Georgoapapa. I faxed requests to two separate fax numbers at my VARO Nov. 22 and then Dec. 12, when I saw again my Aug. 17 c file request still listed as a claim, cancelling any outstanding requests they regarded as FOIA. For weeks then it read "claim information is not available as this time" and then Friday a new FOIA "claim" shows up with a Dec . 5 received date. I never submitted anything other than the Aug. 17 request. I was told by a VARO employee in December any new claim would hold up processing on my IU claim and appeal.

I am very concerned at how this has happened and think Mcafee's English may be a lot better than he lets on and that he may be trying to tell us something. If you have not been using Ebenefits try getting on right away to see if your FOIA request shows up as a claim.

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I had, Return Receipt Requested, requested my "C" file from PGH VARO on

Dec. 15, 2011. I received a post card from the FOIA Officer on Dec 30th, 2011

that they would forward the file as soon as they could. I had already had all

my claims decided prior to this request. I too thought requesting the C File while

claims where in process would slow up my claims process. I would also agree

with Capt C's view it would not be considered a formal claim, otherwise I would

have received a VCAA letter instead of a postcard. Hope this helps.

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Harv, I received a formal letter Saturday. : (

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