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VA will restrict access to VBMS


GBArmy
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Here we go again. The VA did away with dbq's public access to veteran doctors for IMO/IME's a few weeks ago. Now, they are going to restrict access to the VBMS system to only a key person of record at a law office, etc. Others will not be allowed to view. Throws another curveball at us for sure. Article is from CC&K https://cck-law.com/blog/va-proposes-regulations-to-limit-attorney-access-to-the-veterans-benefits-management-system-vbms/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=April_2020

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NBD, Service organizations are unaffected, and all this does is restrict the sign on to the Attorney. Nothing is stopping the paralegals from logging on they just won't have their own password/log in credentials. It means fewer passwords running around with access to VBMS. Paralegals, etc are direct agents of the signatory attorney/representative by definition under 38CFR 14.631(b) and 14.629. Fewer passwords, less people having access to your file/PHI, etc.

Paralegals are working under direct supervision anyway and shouldn't have had their own passwords/credentials. In any case, its only a proposal, its not an approved change. Most of my UN/PW access to govt systems at work is a single UN/PW with access approved or denied by whether or not individual computer login is part of the approved group. I don't have individualized UN/PW for a lot of it, for example. 

From https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/02/19/2020-03196/individuals-accredited-by-the-department-of-veterans-affairs-using-veterans-benefits-administration

Part 1—General Provisions

Section 1.600 Purpose (2nd paragraph or so down)

As such, VA proposes to continue limiting read-only electronic access to claim records to the attorney or agent that is designated by the claimant as the attorney or agent of record, or, if a claimant designates a service organization to provide representation on the claim, to the representatives of that service organization. VA proposes to not grant access to any individual who is not accredited by VA and is not designated to provide representation pursuant to 38 CFR 14.631. 

 

38CFR 14.621 2, (e)1

(e)(1) Only one organization, representative, agent, or attorney will be recognized at one time in the prosecution of a particular claim. Except as provided in § 14.629(c) and paragraph (f)(2) of this section, all transactions concerning the claim will be conducted exclusively with the recognized organization, representative, agent, or attorney of record until notice of a change, if any, is received by the appropriate office of VA.

 

38CFR 14.629 (c)2, 3

 

(2) If the claimant consents in writing, an attorney associated or affiliated with the claimant's attorney of record or employed by the same legal services office as the attorney of record may assist in the representation of the claimant.

(3) A legal intern, law student, or paralegal may not be independently accredited to represent claimants under this paragraph. A legal intern, law student, or certified paralegal may assist in the preparation, presentation, or prosecution of a claim, under the direct supervision of an attorney of record designated under § 14.631(a), if the claimant's written consent is furnished to VA. Such consent must specifically state that participation in all aspects of the claim by a legal intern, law student, or paralegal furnishing written authorization from the attorney of record is authorized. In addition, suitable authorization for access to the claimant's records must be provided in order for such an individual to participate. The supervising attorney must be present at any hearing in which a legal intern, law student, or paralegal participates. The written consent must include the name of the veteran, or the name of the appellant if other than the veteran (e.g., a veteran's survivor, a guardian, or a fiduciary appointed to receive VA benefits on an individual's behalf); the applicable VA file number; the name of the attorney-at-law; the consent of the appellant for the use of the services of legal interns, law students, or paralegals and for such individuals to have access to applicable VA records; and the names of the legal interns, law students, or paralegals who will be assisting in the case. The signed consent must be submitted to the agency of original jurisdiction and maintained in the claimant's file. In the case of appeals before the Board in Washington, DC, the signed consent must be submitted to: Director, Office of Management, Planning and Analysis (014), Board of Veterans' Appeals, P.O. Box 27063, Washington, DC 20038. In the case of hearings before a Member or Members of the Board at VA field facilities, the consent must be presented to the presiding Member of the hearing.

38CFR 14.631 (b)

(b) VA may, for any purpose, treat a power of attorney naming as a claimant's representative an organization recognized under § 14.628, a particular office of such an organization, or an individual representative of such an organization as an appointment of the entire organization as the claimant's representative, unless the claimant specifically indicates in the power of attorney a desire to appoint only the individual representative. Such specific indication must be made in the space on the power-of-attorney form for designation of the representative and must use the word “only” with reference to the individual representative.

Edited by brokensoldier244th
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