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Letter Stating I Am Responsible For Getting Records

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Just got a letter from Nashville RO about my NOD(in which I sent them the filled-out Requests for Information and TDIU that they had sent me). They stated that I am responsible for getting the treatment and work records that they have requested from a non-VA hospital and my former employer. So I called both of them, and found out that neither one has received a request from the RO. :huh: I called the Nashville RO, and after figuring out how to talk to a real person (I just kept holding until the recording gave up repeating itself), I explained the situation to her. The lady was very friendly, but not too helpful. She asked me that since I had done most of the ground work already, could I have them fax the requesting records to the RO Appeals Management? The lady explained that she could not bring up copies of the letters that were supposedly sent by the Appeal Management office, which were supposed to be scanned in. So she did not know if the letters were actually sent yet, but she did find a copy of the letter that was sent to me. She said that Appeals Management is its own office, and gave me their direct fax number to have the records sent to.

I am confused. Isn't the VA supposed to assist by law in obtaining medical and work records? From the Veterans Disability Lawyer Site:

The VA Duty to Assist in Getting Records for a Veterans Disability Claim.

"The Secretary must make reasonable effort to assist claimant in obtaining evidence necessary to substantiate the claimants claim for benefits under a law administered by the secretary." 38 U.S.C. 5103 A. The standard by which the VA must apply this is slightly different depending on whether the records sought are federal records or not.

For federal records the VA must make continued reasonable effort to try and obtain those records. The VA can stop pursuing the records only after they are reasonably sure the records the records don't exist or that a continue effort to get the records would be futile. 38 U.S.C. 5103 A (B)(3). Even if VA for the above reason stops attempting to get records they have an obligation to notify the claimant and inform the claimant of possible alternatives to those records.

For other than federal records such as private doctor records the VA must make reasonable efforts to get them. The Veterans Administration must send a request for the records and if they don't get them after 2 months they must make another request. They are then supposed to continue to request the records if they have "reason to believe" the records could be acquired. It is particularly important that you help or get the records yourself when dealing with non-federal records becasue it is not uncommon for doctors or other medical institutions to ignore these request or react extremely slow to them.

For the Veterans Administration to fulfill its obligation there must be record of their attempts to get the records in the file. If there is no record of their attempts then it is grounds for a remand.

While my non-VA treatment records are private, my work records are Federal Government. However, there is no record of the Nashville RO Appeals Management even attempting to obtain the records. I am very annoyed! ;)

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  • HadIt.com Elder

In 1991 I got most of my hospital records cause I did not trust the VA to do it. If you live in same town its pretty easy to go and get the records except they might charge you for them.

Good Luck

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No, I don't even live in the same state anymore, and had to get my c-file transferred from Sioux Falls, SD to Nashville, TN. The hospital medical records department told me they had record of the request that they received from Social Security, and the records were sent. I had also informed the RO that I have filed for Social Security Disability, and they could get records from them; which has not been done, evidence by their letter telling me I was responsible for their receiving the records. I don't have the money to pay for medical records to be sent to the VARO.

So I guess the VA Duty to Assist law doesn't apply until they deny the NOD, and then I use it for grounds for a remand. This is going to take a long time. *sigh*

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Order the records and than forward them to the VARO using your SO to transmit them. That could cut a lot of time off.

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Do an inquiry asking them to order the records. The VA has to make three attempts to get the records. It is ultimatly your responsibility, however, the VA have to assist you if possible. If cost is inquired by the doctors office you have to pay it. Usually the doctor will send the information the the VA for free. The inquiry will give you a paper trail for the request. Give the complete name and address of the doctors office.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

if you are obtaining the records from the doctors or hospitals for filing for govt benefits I have never been charged for record copies, the only time they want to charge you for these records if they are going to a lawyer for a lawsuit against an insurance company it makes the claims get handled faster if you get the records waiting on the VA rcords to get them you might die first

Edited by Testvet
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  • Moderator

Try these

1. Call the non VA hospital/former employee and speak to the records section and explain your situation about your finances and see if they will mail you a copy of your records at no cost.

2. Go to the release of information office at the VAMC and fill out the VA form 21-4142 and have them request a copy for your records and you. This may take some time you may have to contact the VARO and ask for an extension on getting the evidence, and then take them to the VARO.

3. Take a weekend trip to SD to get the copies of your records, call a few days before you go to inform them you are coming or someone is coming for you a relative/friend, they may have to show an ID to get the records and send them to you and take them to VARO

4. If you have a SO have him fill out a VA form 21-4142 sign it and have him send it to the VA. it could be someone over looked the request for information or ignored it.

Hope these may help

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