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Requesting Your Military Medical And Treatment Records
Requesting Your Military Medical And Treatment Records
When you are filing a claim for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, you will need to provide the VA with your military medical records. In addition, the VA will need to see any treatment records that are relevant to your disability. The VA uses this documentation to determine whether you qualify for disability compensation.
Your military and medical treatment records can also come into play when you are making an appeal to the VA. These records can have an impact on the outcome of your disability claim. The VA may subsequently approve a claim that it previously denied if new and relevant medical records are connected to your disability claim.
For these reasons and more, it is essential to know how to access your military medical and treatment records. In this article, we will walk you through the process of requesting and obtaining these important documents.
How To Request Military Medical And Treatment Records
Veterans, their next-of-kin (the surviving spouse who has not remarried, parent, child, or sibling of a deceased Veteran, for example), or authorized representatives can request military records. If you need to present military records to receive survivors benefits, you can request your deceased spouse’s records from the VA. As is the case when a Veteran applies for disability benefits, a surviving spouse or other next-of-kin will also need to present military medical records to the VA.
TRICARE, the health care program for uniformed service members on active duty, military retirees, and their families, states that the three times you should request copies of your medical and treatment records are when you are under permanent change of station (PCS) orders, you are deploying, or before you retire. Obtaining your records at these points helps to ensure that the documentation you possess is up to date to present it to the VA in completion whenever necessary.
The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) retains the military personnel, health, and medical records of almost 100 million discharged and deceased Veterans of all services during the 20th century. To request records from the NPRC, you are going to need to provide specific information that allows them to locate the records. For security reasons, the NPRC cannot grant access to military medical and treatment records without this information.
What Information Is Needed to Request Military Medical Treatment Records?
To obtain records from the NPRC, you are going to need to provide the following general information about the Veteran:
- The patient’s full name is used during treatment. This name may be different from the name printed on the patient’s birth certificate, depending on whether they were unmarried at the time of their military service.
- The patient’s Social Security number and status during treatment.
- The name of the last treatment facility responsible for the treatment record, usually the last medical facility that provided treatment.
- The year and type of treatment, including type of illness or injury.
- The branch of service and sponsor’s service number or Social Security number
You will want to provide as much information as you can because a record may not be located if information is missing. All of the above information is tied to military medical records, and it is better to have more verification and info than you need rather than less.
When you request military medical and treatment records, make sure to be on the lookout for any correspondence from the NPRC. They may reach out to inform you that they need additional information before they can provide you access to your records, or to let you know that your records have been retrieved and are available.
How Long Does It Take to Get Military Medical Treatment Records?
NPRC states that 92% of separation record requests are processed within 10 days. Certain types of health records could involve delays. The NPRC processes almost 20,000 requests per week, so the turnaround time can vary depending on the nature of a request. If you are requesting health records and fail to provide any of the necessary information, your turnaround time may be significantly longer. If the NPRC needs further documentation from you before they can proceed with retrieving your records, they will notify you. Make sure to submit any missing documentation as soon as you can to expedite the process of getting access to your records.
The eVetRecs system allows for emergency claims to be processed faster. DD 214/Separation Documents, Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), replacement medals, and medical records are all available online, while burial and emergency requests require fax.
When Might It Be Necessary to Obtain Military Medical Records?
A Veteran’s military medical records contain crucial information about diagnoses and treatment of medical conditions during the Veteran’s time in service. This information can provide valuable insight into the Veteran’s past conditions and current health, whether that be physical or mental health. If you need to verify your status as a disabled Veteran, military medical records can be immensely helpful.
Military medical records can help provide a more complete picture of the patient’s medical history and may be useful in treating ongoing conditions and diagnosing illnesses that arise after the Veteran has returned to civilian life. These records can be used to connect a Veteran’s health conditions to specific experiences, injuries, or other factors from their time in the service. Establishing a link between a Veteran’s current disability status and their military service can be beneficial in multiple circumstances, including:
- While applying to receive disability compensation from the VA
- When appealing a VA decision
- When receiving a VA Compensation & Pension (C&P) Exam
- When receiving an independent medical examination (IME)
If it becomes necessary to apply for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), military medical records can play an important role in documenting the Veteran’s medical treatments and overall condition of health during service, as well as showing the source of complications that arose later.
If you are struggling to verify to the VA that your disability is service-connected, you can present your military medical records to a private doctor. As part of an independent medical examination, your doctor can examine your military records and assess your condition to determine whether your disability is service-connected. If the VA has previously ruled that you are not suffering from a service-connected disability, or that your disability is not severe enough to warrant benefits, the results of an IME may change their decision. You can present the results of your IME when appealing a VA decision.
Normally, the timeframe for appealing a VA decision is within one year of the VA’s initial ruling. However, if you find new and relevant military medical records that may influence the VA’s decision regarding your claim, these records can create an exception to this rule. In the event that new and relevant information can be presented in the form of military service or medical records, you can appeal a VA decision decades after it is initially made.
In addition, information contained in a Veteran’s military medical records may be useful to support a VA claim for VA disability benefits for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is often inaccurately assessed or wrongfully handled when a Veteran files a claim for VA benefits for the disorder. To ensure that the VA has a full picture of your disability status and its connection to your military service, make sure to present the Department with any relevant documentation, including your military medical records.
In addition, if a Veteran suffered a traumatic injury while serving in the military and received medical treatment, this information could bolster a claim for VA disability benefits. Your military service records can play an important role in verifying the service connection for any physical or psychological disability.
If the VA denies your claim for disability benefits for PTSD or another service-connected disability, you and your attorney can use your military medical records to dispute their decision. If you need help appealing a VA decision, Contact our law firm today for more information.
Our experienced attorneys are experts at helping Veterans navigate the VA appeals process. When appealing a VA decision alone, a Veteran can easily get overwhelmed. One of our dedicated lawyers can help you make a strong case to the VA that you deserve to receive a different outcome for your disability claim. We can represent you throughout the VA appeals process, starting at your regional VA facility and working up to higher courts if necessary.
Established in 1965 by Vietnam War veteran and attorney John Stevens Berry Sr., Berry Law Firm is a team of veterans dedicated to defending, safeguarding, and fighting to protect the rights of veterans. Over the decades, thousands of veterans from across the country and all branches of the military have trusted our firm with their cases and, more importantly, their futures.