In your latest decision or letter from the VA, they surely mentioned that you should send anything you have to the VA Evidence Intake Center – also known as the EICs.
I’ve told you in an earlier post what the EIC is – and how it works.
In today’s post, I’m going to give you 7 Tips for sending information in to the EIC.
#7: Send only Flat Envelopes with Unfastened Papers to the VA Evidence Intake Center.
Remember how I told you that the first step that the EIC takes is to sort the papers you send and remove staples, etc?
Your documents will be scanned and processed a TON quicker if you don’t put any sort of staples or paper clips on the filings.
They quality of the scan will be even better if you don’t fold anything you send them.
#6: Use headers on your submissions to the VA Evidence Intake Centers.
When the EIC ‘sorts’ what you send them, they will be separating cover letters, VA Forms, medical records and other documents. Each different type of document will be uploaded to a different part of your digital case file in VBMS.
Well, if you do as I teach in the How to File a VA Claim Training Video, when you submit your Fully Developed Claim you will be sending all sorts of different types of information to the VA.
You’ll be sending forms, medical records, affidavits, medical opinions, military service records, and more.
How, then, do you ensure that you can later show the DRO or BVA Judge or CAVC Judge what you sent to the VA and when?
Here’s a quick solution. Put a “unified header” on each document.
Here’s what I put on each page of a submission to the EIC:
Line 1: Type of Document (Notice of Disagreement, Substantive Appeal, Evidence Submission etc)
Line 2: Include the date of the Submission
Line 3: Write the name of the VA Regional Office
Line 4: Your Name
Line 5: Claim Number
Line 6: Page Numbering (I recommend using Page # of # type references)
If this header appears at the top of EVERY page in your filing, not only is there a greater chance it will get to the right RO more quickly, but it also helps you show later what you submitted to the VA, and when.
Here’s a sample of what our header template looks like – we edit the portions in red for each new submission:
#5: Don’t send to the VA Evidence Intake Center AND the Regional Office.
We did this for a while – I was uncertain whether everything going to the EIC would make it to the RO, so I sent it to both.
Turns out, the stuff you send to the RO gets routed back to the EIC anyway…so all your doing is adding duplicate information to your digital case file in VBMS.
And y’all know how I rail against “Sending the VA a Haystack”….send them too much information and they will never find the needle you want them to find.
My Firm has started doing it this way: we send it to the EIC only.
#4 Send by fax to the Evidence Intake Center Whenever You Can.
If you have your own fax machine – or if you use a fax by email service like Maxemail – the EIC will send you a reply fax confirming the time, date and # of pages that were received.
The nice thing about email-to-fax services is that they keep a copy of what you sent by fax for a certain period of time (mine keeps outgoing faxes in our archives for a year). This helps to prove, later, what we sent and when if there is ever any question.
The confirmation will also include a Document Identifier Number – a unique number that will allow you (if you need to) to trace your document through every stage of the EIC digitizing process.
More than that though, if you have a decent scanner (or fax by email service) the quality of your submission will be much better than if you submit paper to the EIC to scan it again.
By the way, here is the VA Evidence Intake Center Fax number:
VA Evidence Intake Centr (Janesville, Wisconsin): (844) 822-5246 (Toll Free)
If you need the mailing addresses to the VA Evidence Intake Centers – or want to verify that those fax numbers are up to date, click here to visit the VA Website.
#3: If you Send by Mail….Use only Certified Mail.
Not everyone has their own fax…and many folks don’t feel comfortable submitting documents by fax.
And some folks just want the proof that someone signed for their submission.
In those cases, use Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested. It costs a couple extra bucks (somewhere around $7-9 dollars depending on how much paper you are sending.
But the comfort of having the “green card” receipt showing that you timely served your document, and that the EIC received your document, is worth 100 times that amount.
When in doubt, send it Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested.
#2: Call the RO and confirm that they received the submission.
Once the EIC scans and processes your submission, it is sent to the VA Regional Office’s digital inbox – for lack of a better term.
The RO is supposed to be immediately moving the document into your file in VBMS, but they are not. I’ve seen cases where ROs are letting files languish in their electronic inbox for weeks or months.
Now, if you call the 1-800-827-1000 number, the folks that answer that call do not yet have the ability to see what is in your VBMS file (your digital case file) or what is in the RO’s digital inbox.
But if you submit an IRIS request, or visit the RO in person, or if you were smart enough to get the email address of the last person at the RO you talked to, you can ask them to check their e-folder (their name for the digital inbox) and confirm that they received your submission and have added it to your digital VBMS case file.
#1: Keep a copy of everything you send to the VA Evidence Intake Center!
This is the Oldest Rule in the VA Claim Handbook – and it still holds true today.
No matter what, NEVER EVER break this cardinal rule of sending stuff in to the VA: Don’t ever send your original copy of a document, and don’t ever send your ONLY copy of a document.
If you don’t keep a copy of a document that you sent to the EIC, and the VA or the EIC (or the postal service) loses or damages the document, there is nothing left to resubmit. Also, you cannot prove what you sent to the VA unless you keep an exact copy of everything you send.
I hope these Tips help you make BETTER submissions to the VA Evidence Intake Centers.
You tell me….what problems have you had dealing with the EIC?