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va C-File Field Manual

Do you have a copy of your VA Claims File (aka, VA C-File)?

If not, then you have just figured out 1 of the major reasons that the VA keeps screwing up your claim.

Other Veterans will tell you the same thing. Here is a quote from a Veteran on Facebook:


“The best advise that I can ever get a Veteran, or his family… contact the Veterans Affairs office by certified mail, and request a full copy of your “C-file”, and yes you can get them. If they don’t sent them then you can file in Federal Court….”


I have been saying this for years.

The VA C-File is – in my opinion – the single most important document in your VA claim or appeal.  Finally, folks are starting to listen:

My eBook (How to get your VA C-File) is the most requested eBook on our site.

Here’s what one Veteran wrote about this eBook:

“Before reading the Veterans Law Blog’s eBook, I had no idea about the importance of my c-file or how to obtain a copy.  — Gary A.”

Over the years, I taught several DOZEN Veterans Advocates the same unique VA C-File requesting process I teach on the Veterans Law Blog.

What makes this process unique?

Simple:  it has teeth.  If the VA doesn’t get your C-File to you within the time required by law, I show you how you can file suit in Federal District Court.

As far as I know, I am the 1st attorney in the US to advocate using this method of getting C-Files from the VA.

Though the law that allows for this  C-File Request process has been around since the mid 1970s, not many Veterans have known about it because attorneys have only recently (2007) been allowed to start representing Veterans before the VA Regional Offices.

You think a VSO is going to tell you about this method?  Puh-leeze.

I’ll make you a deal:

Show me a VSO that routinely teaches every Veteran to request and study their own C-File, and I will publicly apologize to that VSO on video on this blog.  (I love being wrong about things like this, because it means MORE Veterans are getting MORE help from MORE people).

1. This is the only place that you might find your C&P results.

Here are some reasons that I think that the VA C-File is the most important document in your VA Appeal.

Remember that Compensation and Pension Exam you took at the VA Medical Center?   The results – and the form requesting it – are in your C-File.

In fact, if the VA is denying your claim because of a lack of “nexus” between your condition and military service, there is a really good chance that there is an adverse C&P Exam in your C-File.

I have only seen the C&P Exam reports in actual medical treatment records (where they might do some good in treating a Veteran) about 1 out of 1,000 requests.

What does that mean?

The C-File is probably the only place you’ll find your C&P Exam Results.


2. The VA decision is based entirely on what is in – or not in – this file.  

Every level of the claim process looks at the VA C-File.

Every level of the claim process reviews it.

The DRO will carry it into your DRO Hearing or Conference.

Medical examiners have to certify that they reviewed it or their decision lacks legal credibility.

That’s how important it is.

3. Without it, the VBA doesn’t know anything about you.

Seriously – if the VBA (the benefits side is the VBA – the health side is the VHA) side of the house can’t find your VA C-File, then they draw 1 of 2 conclusions:

Conclusion 1: You are not a Veteran

Conclusion 2: You never filed a claim.

I’ve also seen the VA deny claims because they cannot find the C-File, or parts of it. They conclude that the absence of evidence is evidence against the claim: one of the most common errors that the VA and the BVA makes.


4. Everything the VBA thinks they know about you is in it.This is very closely related to #3, above. 

If the BVA or VBA is issuing a decision that is adverse to you, it is because of what is in – or not in – the VA C-File.

It’s that simple.

5. Code sheets.

Ever heard of a Code Sheet? I bet you haven’t.

Every time the VA issues a Ratings Decision, they should attach a Code Sheet.

This Code Sheet tells me – the Veterans advocate – the claims that have and have not been service-connected, the Effective Dates, the Impairment Ratings, the method of service connection, the Diagnostic Codes used, and so much more.

The VA used to attach Code Sheets to the last page of the Ratings Decision, but in their efforts to streamline the claims process, they’ve decided that the Veteran doesn’t “need to know” this information.

As they say in France: “au contraire mon frère” (To the contrary, my friend)

Its one of the first documents I look for in a VA C-File because it tells me SO much about the case.

Do you have your VA C-File?  If not …. why not?



  1. Catherine Colvin

    Hello Chris,

    Thank you so much for what you do. I have a question about the “The C-file Field Manual”. When I click on it, I am redirected to the Shop page. How is “The C-file Field Manual” obtained?

    • Chris Attig

      Hi Catherine,

      Thanks for the question – the field manuals are available (free) to any subscriber. Once you subscribe, go to the “downloads” on the “My Account” page.

      Having said that, the C-File field manual has been converted to a course, which is also free to any subscriber to the VLB. Simply go to the “My courses” tab on the blog’s top menu.


  2. tomio

    Chris,followed your instructions and even used your pro forma letter to submit my FOIA request for my cfile. That was back in Feb 2016. Soon after their 20 day window, VA acknowledged receipt of my request and told me that they are in the process of putting it on a cd. When I look at ebenefits, they say that action will be completed between may 2018 and may 2019. No Chris, FOIA and it’s time requirements mean nothing to the VA. Suing them in court? Sure I might get my cfile sooner, but you think they will treat someone who sued them fairly on my pending NOD? I fear not. I will personally ask you about this when you speak to us at our Utapao reunion on Tucson next month unless you care to address this earlier

    • Chris Attig

      You have to sue under FOIA or the requests have no teeth.

      My firm has sued them multiple times under FOIA, and we have never suffered negative consequences because of that. That said, email me at and I may be able to get you info that can get it to you quicker. Remind of the facts you shared above in this post.

      See you at the Utapao reunion!! I think I’m speaking there September 29th


  3. Roger D. Deal

    I first filed for VA benifits 27 months ago. I have an evaluation at their office in Asheville NC May 6. I have been under physicriatiic care for about 4years. Any information you could forward would be appreciated . Three year Vietnam vet 1LT. Thanking you in advance

  4. mark soderquist

    How and where do I get this “C file”?

  5. Betsy Odell

    LOD/service-connected, disabled female Vet(MST/PTSD) on the brink so I started volunteering at a homeless facility just for young Veterans. Been there 8 months, was made Commander of the Volunteer Squadron and work for a retired Marine Col. and his sweet wife. I put EVERYTHING into helping these guys. But I hurt and I bury myself in research. I came upon this site- some is quite different about YOU. At this point, and as I told Congressman Jeff Miller Aug. 19th at Five STAR where I volunteer and he visited for a town meeting, for my it’s about honoring Ruth Moore’s legacy. It took this courageous Vet 20 years to get her justice(100%). Will you consider representing me? Wealth is not my goal. Reciprocity is! Betsy Odell [phone number deleted]

    • Chris Attig


      Your volunteer work sounds very rewarding. I’m glad this site is helping.

      As for representation, you’ll have to request a consultation using the links on the page.


  6. Jim Moten

    Obtained my C-File found a document,not sure of the VA form#, but it was a on exit document from the Marine Corps review board that looks like they clearly got the diagnosis of my congenital condition correct,assigned the initial 10% rating on exit and indicated at least 3X pre-existed but was “aggravated by military service”,injury ocurred while entitled to basic pay,injury did not ocurr in a UA status,injury did not ocurr on my own time. They actually have stuff “x’d ” out and have the word “aggravated” typed in its place? I’m confused. Isn’t this the smoking gun that should service connect my congenital condition that was aggravated by military service. I have spondylolisthesis, no previous history of back probs, 12 wks MC boot camp, 4 PFT’s maintained 1st class ranking(225)heard ‘pop’ in my back helping power plant remove jet engine from F4 on a dolly after being directed to assist from shop NCOIC GSGT. The form is dated Sept 1980 I was discharged(honorable)Oct 1980.

    • Chris Attig

      Jim – I would be happy to take a look at that document and see if I can make heads-or-tails of it. I’ve seen stuff similar to that before, but not exactly as you’re describing. Anyway, email it to me at chris at attiglawfirm dot com as a PDF attachment if you can, and I’ll give you my 2 cents. (unless you are already represented by an attorney, and then I recommend you go to them, first).

      –Chris A



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