In short, the “Claims File,” or “C-File” for short, is your entire record at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
At its most basic level, your claims file is everything the VA has in relation to your claim(s) for benefits and compensation.
What does the C-File contain?
The C-File will contain (or should contain) all medical and non-medical records gathered by the VA during the course of the claim, including:
- Medical Records from the Veteran’s time in service, also known as “Service Treatment Records”
- Military personnel file
- Claims filed by the Veteran
- Claim and Pension (C&P) Exams
- Medical Records from VA Medical Centers
- Buddy Statements
- Medical Records submitted by the Veteran
Reviewing the C-file is usually the best approach to learn what the VA has and has not done for a veteran, where mistakes have been made, and how to correct those problems so the veteran can receive his or her hard-earned benefits.
For instance, the C-File will contain reports C&P exams. C&P examination results usually go directly to the VA, and unless the Veteran gets their C-File, they may never see the examinations. Here’s how it happens: The veteran will go through an exam test, answer the medical provider’s questions, and leave with the impression that the medical provider understood them and their complaints. The Veteran might think that the exam went well. The issue is that exams are frequently deficient, or even worse, downright negative. This news typically comes as a shock to the veteran who felt the exam went well.
Occasionally, the Veteran believes that his or her C&P medical provider was on board and supportive of their claim. When the claims file is retrieved, however, the reverse is discovered. Finding all this information aids in the planning of how to obtain the veteran’s benefits, whether it requires obtaining an expert opinion to counter the VA doctor’s opinion, gathering additional private medical records, or some other approach.
Obtaining a copy of the C-File is the first step toward winning your case and provides the information needed to prepare your case. There could be negative evidence you were unaware of, positive evidence you are unaware of, judgments with appeals pending, earlier rulings that were clearly incorrect, or evidence that should be in the file but missing entirely. No one knows for sure until they can see the entire file.
Appeal Your Decision with Veterans Advocacy Lawyer Andrew P. Gross
Neither the veteran nor their attorney understands what kind of case they are dealing with until the C-file is received and thoroughly evaluated. If you’d like to appeal a negative decision, you can contact a seasoned Veterans Advocacy lawyer at the Law Office of Andrew P. Gross.