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Foia Request


deanbrt

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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 I immediately faxed them that I had rescinded any FOIA fax request and made no request Jan. 5.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 I again rescinded any outstanding FOIA request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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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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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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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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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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