Medical Records and Your VA Disability Claim
In any claim for VA disability benefits, evidence is needed to help prove the claim. Medical evidence can be one of the most important pieces to the puzzle. It is important to know how you can obtain your own medical records, whether it is through a private doctor or medical facility and through a VA Medical Center and/or facility.
The VA 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 evidence that they wish to submit to the VA to help support their claim.
VA Medical Records
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 release 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. You do not want to be using an out of date form to help keep the VA from denying your request for your records.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 medical records. With this online account, there are three kinds of accounts available: a basic account which provides limited access to features available that is usually self-entered, an advanced account, and a premium account which gives the highest level of access to all of the sites’ features. First-time users should visit https://www.myhealth.va.gov/mhv-portal-web/home or contact their local VA Medical Center for assistance.
Private Medical Records
You can obtain records from private doctors or hospitals by simply contacting them and asking for your records. Some private facilities may request that you fill out a release form for them to release your records to you or they 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
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 that are being requested to be found. Most of these records are paper records that have been stored in boxes.
You can request personnel and service 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 Medical 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 doctors so that your doctor can notate your worsening symptoms. This is always helpful in cases for an increased rating. Medical records establish 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.