The VA C-File is the most important document in any VA Claim or Appeal. One would think, given that the VA has a Duty to Assist the Veteran, that they would get Veterans copies of their claims files as quickly as possible.
If one thinks that, one does not know the VA. Not only is there nothing fast about this Agency, but the process is so complex and convoluted that getting a C-File in under a year USED TO BE impossible. Now, it’s still very difficult – because the VA loves to play this game where it intentionally jumbles up 2 very distinct laws: the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act.
What the VA does is they say that the Privacy Act prevents them from producing the C-File under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – they do this to transmogrify your FOIA Request for a C-File (which has a 20 day time limit) to a Privacy Act Request. We will talk about the Privacy Act in a future post or video (or you can learn ALL about it in our C-File Video Training Course), but there is no such thing as a “Privacy Act Request”.
So, why does the VA change your FOIA request into the non-existent Privacy Act Request? Simple – it makes the VA Claims process nonadversarial….for THEM, not for YOU. Also, the Privacy Act does not have any statutory time limits for the production of documents.
So, when you are getting your C-File from the VA, it is critical that you know the answer to the question in this video. Take 2 minutes and watch it. If you want to learn more, the Veterans Law Blog has a 3+ training video that will give you all the forms you need to request and get your C-File from the VA, and how to use it to improve your VA Claim or Appeal.