Accessing your VA medical records is an essential part of taking charge of your healthcare.
Whether you are seeking treatment for a service-connected injury or dealing with a chronic medical condition, having access to your medical records is crucial to ensuring that you receive the best possible care.
The department of veterans affairs has a “duty to assist” veterans or, in other words, help them obtain their medical records to support their VA disability claim.
Even though the VA has a duty to assist, it is the veteran’s responsibility to provide any and all health information that they wish to submit to the VA to help support their claim.
VA Medical Records
Medical Records can be vital to your VA Disability Claim. If you have been treated at a VA Medical Center, the medical records can be requested directly from the VA Medical Center by using VA Form 10-5345a or by visiting your local VA Medical Center. When using this VA Form 10-5345a, it is important that you are using the most updated form available. Do not use an out-of-date form. An out-of-date form may cause the VA to deny your request for your records.
Another way to access your VA medical records is through an online portal called My HealtheVet. This website allows veterans to create an online account where they can access their VA health care records.
With this online account, there are three kinds of accounts available: a basic account which provides limited access to features available and is usually self-entered, an advanced account, and a premium my healthevet account which gives the highest level of access to all of the site’s features.
First-time users should visit https://www.myhealth.va.gov/mhv-portal-web/home or contact their local VA Medical Center’s health care team for assistance.
The VA also offers the health information exchange that allows military personnel and medical professionals to easily access your health-related military service records to assist in determining your medical history for your VA claim.
Private Medical Records
You can obtain personal health records from private doctors or hospitals by simply contacting them and asking for your records.
The privacy act requires private facilities to request that you fill out a release of information form for them to release your records to you.
The form may require your social security number and phone number. These private facilities may have their own online portal that is similar to My HealtheVet, where you can access your private medical records.
You may also request that the VA obtain these records for you by signing a release form.
National Personnel Records Center
Many records kept in the NPRC are stored in paper format. The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is a part of the National Archives and Records Administration. The NPRC stores records for veterans who have been discharged or have retired from the military.
Most of these records are not stored electronically so it may take some time for the records to be found. Most of these records are paper records that have been stored in boxes.
You can request personnel and active duty treatment records from the NPRC as well as a copy of your DD214 should you need a copy. You can request NPRC records online or by using a Standard Form 180.
Any specific information like the name of the hospital where you were admitted for treatment during service or where you served in combat may be beneficial to include in your request.
Why Are Your Health Records Important?
Medical records that are relevant to your claim can help paint a picture of the symptoms and the severity of your claimed condition. It is important that you always report worsening symptoms to your health care provider so that your doctor can notate your worsening symptoms. This is always helpful in cases for an increased rating.
Medical records establish your health history and the types of disabilities you have been diagnosed with and provide clinical findings, lab results, and important medical opinions from your medical providers who are most familiar with your condition.
Methods to Obtain Your VA Medical Records
There are several ways to obtain your VA medical records, including online, by mail, and in-person at a VA medical facility.
You can also now access your VA disability benefit decision online, too.
Here’s a closer look at each of these methods:
The fastest and most convenient way to obtain your VA medical records is through the VA’s online portal, My HealtheVet.
To use this method, you’ll need to create an account on the My HealtheVet website and complete the authentication process.
Once you’ve completed the authentication process, you can request your VA medical records by clicking on the “Download My Data” button.
You’ll be asked to select the date range for the records you want to download, and then you can download your records in a PDF format.
If you prefer to request your VA medical records by mail, you can download and complete VA Form 10-5345a, also known as the “Request for and Authorization to Release Medical Records or Health Information.”
Once you’ve completed the form, you can mail it to the VA medical facility where you received treatment.
You should receive a response within 10 business days of the VA receiving your request. If the VA cannot fulfill your request within 30 days, they will send you a letter explaining why.
You can also request your VA medical records in-person at a VA medical facility. To do this, you’ll need to visit the Release of Information office at the VA facility where you received treatment.
You’ll need to bring a valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, and you’ll need to complete VA Form 10-5345a.
Once you’ve completed the form, you’ll need to turn it in to the Release of Information office. You should receive a response within 10 business days of your request.
No matter which method you choose to request your VA medical records, it’s important to provide as much information as possible to ensure that your request is fulfilled promptly and accurately.
Be sure to include your full name, social security number, date of birth, and the date range for the records you’re requesting.
If you have any questions or concerns about the process, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Release of Information office at your VA medical facility for assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to receive my VA medical records?
The processing time for VA medical records requests can vary, depending on the complexity of the request and the workload of the VA staff.
Simple requests may be processed within a few weeks, while more complex requests may take several months to fulfill.
Can I request records for someone else?
Yes, you can request VA medical records for a veteran or another individual, as long as you have their written consent or legal authorization to do so.
Can I get my VA medical records from a private healthcare provider?
No, VA medical records are only available from the VA healthcare system.
However, if you received care at a VA medical facility that has closed or is no longer in operation, your records may have been transferred to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri.
Are there any fees associated with obtaining VA medical records?
No, there are no fees for obtaining VA medical records.
Can I request copies of specific documents or portions of my VA medical records?
Yes, you can request copies of specific documents or portions of your VA medical records, as long as you provide specific details about the information you need.
How do I know if my request for VA medical records was successful?
Once your request is processed, the VA will send you a letter confirming that your records have been released. If your request was denied, the VA will provide you with a reason for the denial and information about how to appeal the decision.
Can I access my VA medical records online?
Yes, you can access your VA medical records online through the VA’s Blue Button feature, which allows you to view, download, and print your health and benefits information.
To use this feature, you must have a Premium DS Logon account or an ID.me account, which can be created on the VA’s website.
In conclusion, obtaining your VA medical records can provide valuable information about your healthcare history and help you access the benefits you have earned through your military service.
Whether you are seeking treatment for a service-connected disability, applying for a VA loan, or simply want to keep track of your medical history, having access to your VA medical records is crucial.
By following the methods outlined in this article, you can successfully request your VA medical records and obtain the information you need to make informed decisions about your healthcare and benefits. Remember to be patient and persistent in your requests, and don’t hesitate to reach out to a VA disability benefits specialist if you need assistance.
At the end of the day, your VA medical records are a valuable resource that can help you take control of your healthcare and ensure that you receive the benefits and support you deserve as a veteran.
Have Questions About Appealing Your Claim or Understanding How the Claims Process Works?
The attorneys at Hill & Ponton are here to support you with appealing a claim to get disability benefits.
If you do get denied, you can always file again if you have the necessary medical documents and nexus that support your claims. Don’t lose hope–especially when it comes to fighting for the benefits you deserve!
If you are intending to appeal a denied claim, you can contact us for an evaluation and we can help you with this process.
However, if you are considering filing an initial claim, or even if you are interested in learning about the appeals process, we offer a free ebook to get you started on the right foot!
The Road to VA Compensation Benefits will help break down the claims process from start to finish. Click the link below to learn more.
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