The long and winding road in obtaining disability benefits is fraught with many roadblocks, one of them being the process of obtaining medical records. Now, the VA in their “duty to assist” has made it easier for veterans to get their own medical records through www.myhealthevets.com. Launched, interestingly enough, nationwide on November 11, 2003, Veteran’s Day, My HealtheVet is a free, online personal health record that empowers veterans to become informed partners in their health care, and registered veterans have internet access at any time to their VA health information. The site’s secure portal allows veterans to own their personal information, and the information they track more often than not is health history, contact information for health care providers, medication history, and weight and blood pressure.
There are three types of accounts through My HealtheVet:
- Basic – this provides limited access to features in My HealtheVet that is self-entered
- Advanced – This is only for veterans and/or VA Patients, and is a higher level of access to features offered in My HealtheVet
- Premium – This is only for veterans and/or VA Patients, and gives users the highest level of access to My HealtheVet features.
Basic and advanced accounts do not require authentication, which is the process by which the VA verifies a veteran’s identity before allowing access to their VA health record. This is done to protect the veteran’s personal information. A premium account DOES require authentication.
As it relates to gathering and submitting evidence for a disability claim, My HealtheVet has streamlined the process for so many veterans and their advocates. In previous years, a signed VA Form 21-5345 (Request For and Authorization to Release Medical Records) had to be submitted to a particular VA facility, and then, the veteran and/or advocate had to wait for medical records. Sometimes, as is usually the case with the VA, it can be a lengthy wait, and time is of the essence when filing a claim for a particular disability. Medical records are the impetus that drives the claim.
Truth be told, nothing is more helpful for getting the benefits a veteran earned and deserve than participation in the claims process. VA owes veterans a transparent and efficient process, but that process can be made more difficult and cumbersome without their involvement. In obtaining medical records through My HealtheVet, and in assisting a representative/advocate, the veteran basically cuts out the middle man by uploading their own records, and instantly submitting them to the representative working on their claim.