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Requesting A Copy of Your VA C File (VA Claims File)

Requesting A Copy of Your VA C File (VA Claims File)

VA Claims File, the infamous C File. We can not stress enough how important it is to: View your VA Claims File at the Veterans Affairs regional office (find your Regional VA Office here). Call the VA at 1-800-827-1000 and request an appointment to view your C File (VA Claims File).

  • Ensure that all the records in your VA Claims File or C File are yours.
  • Check that everything you have sent to the VA is included in your VA Claims File.
  • After viewing your VAClaims File (c file) and correcting any mistakes you may find, you should request a hard copy of your C File.

If you’re having a difficult time obtaining your VA Claims File from your Regional VA Office, you can file a written Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request. See below for more information on FOIA requests.

Read more on Establishing Veterans Affairs Service Connection for Disability Compensation.

When you apply for disability benefits, the VA creates a claims file. Information you send to the VA records the VA obtains on your behalf, and documents created by the VA are all in this file. The claims file is commonly referred to as the “C File.”

Requesting Your Claims File

Source: Nolo

If you have been denied disability, you will want to obtain a copy of your VA Claims file to obtain information that will help you in filing your appeal. Request it from the VA Regional Office, where you submitted your claim for benefits. If you do not receive it in a timely manner, make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the file. For more information about filing a FOIA request, see Nolo’s article on obtaining VA records. You are entitled to receive one copy of your claims file for free.

Typical Documents in a VA Claims File

When you receive your VA Claims File, don’t be surprised if the documents are somewhat disorganized. Also, there may be several document copies even though you only need one. It can take a while to sort it all out. If you want some help with this, you may want to find a VA disability attorney to assist you.

Here are some basic documents you might find in your C File if you have applied for VA benefits. This is not an exhaustive list but merely a description of the most common and important documents you should find in your file. If any of these documents are missing, you will want to obtain them. (See Nolo’s article on obtaining VA records for more information about how to do that.)

DD-214, Report of Separation From Service

This is a very important document. It includes information about your character of service, which can determine your eligibility for benefits. Your DD-214 will also include your dates of service, specialties, any medals received, and other information about your term(s) of service.

Application for Benefits

Any applications for benefits that you have previously made should be included in your C File. This can be important if you did not keep copies before submitting an application.

Denial Letter, Ratings Decision, and Code Sheet

If you have been denied benefits, there should be a letter in your file notifying you of the decision to deny you benefits. Until recently, the VA also issued detailed rating decisions explaining why benefits were granted or denied and why certain ratings were assigned to service-connected disabilities. The rating decisions do not provide much information and tend to be brief.

There should also be a code sheet accompanying the rating decision. The code sheet contains information related to the rating decision, such as the diagnostic code that was used to assign the disability rating. It also provides information about the effective date of benefits, whether a future reexamination will be required, and additional details about the decision.

If you are going to hire an attorney, one of the first things they will ask you for is a copy of the denial letter, rating decisions, and code sheet.

Service Medical Records

You may find copies of your service medical records in the file if the VA requested these while gathering information to decide your claim. An important document in these records is the report from your enlistment examination. This exam report contains information about whether you suffered from certain medical conditions at the time you entered service.


VA FOIA Requests

Military Records

Records pertaining to veterans who have been discharged and have no remaining reserve commitment, veterans who have retired, or veterans who have died are available at the National Archives and Records Administration, National Personnel Records Center, and Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR).

National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records –

VA Medical Records

Your file may contain records from the VA Medical Center where you receive treatment, but it may not. Or it may contain an incomplete set of your medical records.

Best Practice Request your medical records directly from the VA Medical Center by requesting them in person or over the phone.

Compensation and Pension examination

Another document a lawyer will want to see is a copy of your compensation and pension exam report. This is the exam you went to where the VA doctor evaluated your disabilities and recommended to the Veterans Benefits Administration whether or not your disabilities were service-connected.

Suggested Reading What to Expect at a Compensation & Pension Exam

Service Personnel Records

Your file may also include copies of your active duty personnel records. This will include information about where you served, copies of certificates for medals you received, performance evaluations, and other information.

Appeal Documents in a Claims File


If you have already filed an appeal and had an appeal denied, the following documents may be in your C-file.

  • The Notice of Disagreement you filed, telling the VA you disagreed with their decision.
  • Statement of the Case, a document describing in detail how the conclusions in the rating decision were reached.
  • A transcript of a hearing before a Decision Review Officer (DRO) or the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA), if you had a hearing.
  • Information about your representative or attorney (if you had one).

Regarding FOIA Requests

As of September 19, 2011, the Department of Veterans Affairs will accept FOIA requests electronically.

If you have a FOIA request that relates to the Department of Veterans Affairs — Office of Acquisition and Logistics — Procurement Policy and Warrant Management Services, please submit your requests to our FOIA electronic mailbox.

ALL other FOIA-related information as it relates to the Department may be accessed at the VA’s FOIA website.  Please read all applicable sections, including but not limited to; “How to Submit a Request,” “Fee Information,” and “How to appeal a FOIA request.”  FOIA information as it relates to the VA is also contained in a downloadable Requesters Reference Guide.

The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a collection of documents that are available electronically on the Internet.  These public records include VA statements of policy, staff manuals, as well as high-profile records that have been previously requested by another member of the public and is likely to become the subject of another FOIA request.  It is likely that the information you seek has already been made available in the VA FOIA reading room.

You may view an index of records that have already been requested by members of the public via the VA FOIA Reading Room Frequently Requested Records section.

FOIA Liaison Officer: Angela Davis
Phone: 202-461-9516

Access a complete listing of the VA’s FOIA points of contact and FOIA electronic mailbox addresses on the VA FOIA website.

VA Regional Offices

From the VA’s Website:

VA Form VA-3288 Request For and Consent to Release Information from Claimant’s Records This is a fillable online form so you can type in your answers and then print it out. I recommend printing out 2 and save 1 copy undated and unsigned so if you have to use this form again make a copy sign and date it and put your original away again in case you need it. I recommend this for all forms. 05/12/2014 You can search for any VA form you need here.

Additional Form Resources:

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