Your VA medical records will either make or break your VA claim. By not having access to them, you are faced with a world of frustration, trying to make up for it with additional evidence. And by having perfect med records, you could be one of the lucky ones who have their claim approved the first round. Whichever category you fall into, you need your medical records, and I will be showing you how to gather those.
Currently, the VA Medical Record system is a giant mess. There are still hundreds if not thousands of Veterans across the country who’s medical records are still in print and waiting to be converted to computer files. It is so massive that if stacked on top of each other, the entire log of records would reach 5 miles high.
Because of this, the $16 billion projects to connect your service medical records with your VA medical records has been delayed another 6 months. The original goal was that there would be a rollout of the complete system in March 2020, but that now looks to be ready no sooner than October 2020. Ensuring that obtaining your records still has a high likelihood of being a bit of a chore.
Which brings up the question…
WHY GO THROUGH THE TROUBLE OF OBTAINING YOUR VA MEDICAL RECORDS IN THE FIRST PLACE?
An essential reason for obtaining your medical records is if you are preparing to file a claim with the VA. In developing a claim, you will want to have all the information you can get on-hand.
To understand HOW to get your VA medical records, check out THIS video
Medical records document the extent of your injuries/symptoms, making the decision on your claim much easier, and therefore quicker, to make.
If you have already been receiving VA care, it is still valuable to have access to your medical records.
In 2014 the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act was signed into law, allowing veterans to seek care outside of the VA system. This is one reason you may want copies of your VA medical records on hand.
Another reason is that, if you did choose to receive care outside of the VA, you would need all new records sent over. These are normally done in paper form, which only makes sense to integrate with the electronic medical record.
However, medical records are rarely inputted promptly. Meaning you may want to obtain physical copies to have on hand to prevent medical mixups and/or delays. Otherwise, you might be faced with a situation that your electronic records may not be fully up to date.
Because of all the confusion in the system, one might find it helpful to obtain copies of their medical records to have on-hand. Especially if they are dealing with any persistent health issues.
Finally, it can be helpful to have obtained your VA medical records to save time in the future. You will need to review your documents to know what’s in them, especially before your C&P exam. Being informed about your own health is a powerful tool.
HOW DO I GO ABOUT GETTING THE ACTUAL RECORDS?
With the push to have all VA Medical Records in electronic format, the VA has made it possible to access many of these records online. This can be done by going to the VA’s website. There you will be walked through the process of logging into VA Blue Button (if eligible) and then can view your electronic medical records.
However, if you are looking to obtain physical copies of your medical records, it will have to be done directly from the VA Medical Center visited. This can be done through phone, visitation, or by using the Individuals Request for a Copy of Their Own Health Information.
WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Lastly, a significant change is coming to all VA Medical Records and how they are handled in the next year. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, veterans will no longer have to authorize sharing their medical records with other providers.
Currently, the system is “Opt-In”, meaning veterans are required to give consent before their records are shared. The new system is universally an “Opt-Out” system, meaning that no permission needs to be given. Conversely, the new system requires the veteran to REFUSE the sharing.
In fact, those that have Opted-Out before may be required to do so again.
This is a major change to how the VA will be handling the records of all veterans, and all veterans must be notified of it.
This is part of several new reforms made in the 2018 MISSION ACT and was decided to speed up care.
If you, or anyone you know, wishes to Opt-Out, it can be done by filling out and turning in Form 10-10164.
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About the Author
VA Claims insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. We’re here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Independent Medical Opinions & Nexus Statements (Medical Nexus Letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.