It is important to gather all relevant documents so that VA can evaluate your disability claim. Some of these documents may be in your possession or easily available to you, but VA will need your authorization to access others.
The documents you’ll need to provide include:
- Discharge or separation papers (DD214 or equivalent)
- Service treatment records (if they are in your possession)
- Medical evidence (private doctor and hospital reports)
The Veterans Claims Assistance Act (VCAA) passed by Congress in 2000 defines both the Veteran’s and VA’s responsibility:
Obtaining relevant records from:
- Any federal agency, including the military
- VA medical centers, including private facilities where VA has authorized treatment
- The Social Security Administration
Providing a medical examination or obtaining a medical opinion, if required to decide the claim.
The Veteran’s responsibility
Obtaining relevant records not held by a federal agency. This may include records from:
- State or local governments
- Private doctors and hospitals
- Current or former employers
VA may assist in obtaining these records
- Providing relevant information to VA so that records can be requested.
Example A Veteran filed a disability claim that included previous treatment from a private doctor and a previous Social Security disability award. In this case, VA is responsible for obtaining the Social Security records and can assist in obtaining the private physician records. However, ultimate responsibility for obtaining the private records lies with the Veteran.
Evidence Procedures for Fully Developed Claims and Standard Claims
Fully Developed Claims
The Fully Developed Claims program allows you to speed up the claim-resolution process. You need to submit the following when you file your formal claim:
- All relevant service-treatment and personnel records
- Any pertinent private medical records
Disability benefit claims are considered fully developed when you have no more evidence to submit and the only assistance required from VA is obtaining federal records and facilitating or providing additional medical examinations or opinions. If VA determines other nonfederal records exist and are required to decide a claim, VA will remove the claim from the FDC program and process it through the traditional claims process.
Evidence procedures for standard claims place greater responsibility on VA to assemble relevant records from both federal sources and private sources that you identify and authorize.
These may include:
- Privately held evidence and information that you tell us about (such as records from a private doctor or hospital), and
- Records from state or local governments or current or former employers.
VA will provide a medical examination for you, or will get a medical opinion, if it’s required to make a claims decision.