One of the most popular questions we receive at the company is Veterans concern over the infamous, “C-File.” Clients often have either heard it mentioned during a recent visit to the VA hospital or from a buddy at the local VFW or American Legion.
Clients often express to us that they’ve been told by another veteran that they absolutely must have it to file their claim. I was instructed by a mentor of mine to get your “C-file” after I filed my first claim when I retired from the Air Force. I recall jotting down that little tidbit of information in my retirement notebook and never referencing it again because I had no idea at that time what a C-file even was. So, let’s begin there.
What exactly is a C-File?
A C-File (sometimes referred to as a VA Claims-File), is a file created by Veterans Affairs that possess all information concerning any claim you’ve ever filed with the VA. Any information that you have sent to the VA records department, the VA obtains on your behalf, and documents created by the VA are all in this file.
Examples of information include DD-214, orders, medical records, and supporting documentation you may have submitted with a prior claim. It also possesses information and notes on any Compensation and Pension (C&P) examinations you may have had. These notes are critical if you are filing for a previously denied disability. You can see precisely why the examiner denied your claim and better prepare for the next one. Whether you have already submitted one or seven claims, they are all combined into one file.
How can I get a copy of my VA C-File?
You have a few options to accomplish this task. You can view your VA Claims Folder at your nearest Veterans Affairs Regional Office. Call the VA at 1-800-827-1000 and request an appointment view your C-File (find your Regional VA Office here). If you request your C-file by mail, you’ll file a VA 3288 and send it to the intake center. They turn it into a word-searchable pdf for inclusion into the c-file. For guidance on Freedom of Information requests, see here. Here’s VA Form 3288 to request your C-file. Use this statement on the form: “I respectfully request a copy of my C-file. this is a formal FOIA request,” and send to
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Evidence Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444
It takes an average of 3-6 months to receive it. Keep that 3-6-month timeframe in mind when deciding to pursue your next claim. Some veterans have informed us that they have received their C-file on CD. If this is the case making copies will be on your own dime. Converting the CD to PDF files would be a better option in my opinion. If you seek help with your claim, it would be convenient to have your records ready to send in an instant in PDF form.
What do you look for when you get your C-file?
I can’t say this enough but accuracy. Accuracy is paramount. Ensure all records belong to you and that someone else’s did not get mixed in with yours. Check everything, veteran! Make sure everything you sent into the VA is in there. If you’ve had a previously denied claim, it is essential to see what evidence was used to reject you. View that evidence carefully, and it will help you form a better strategy for making that claim again. This time a winning one!
Please reach out to me if you’d like to establish that strategy. Godspeed vet!
Brett is a retired U.S. Air force Master Sergeant of twenty years and calls Orlando, Florida his home nowadays. He is a husband to wife Catherine and proud father to twin boys Mason and Cannon. You can contact him at [email protected]