VA's Duty to Assist Veterans in Obtaining Evidence
It is established by law that the VA has a duty to assist Veterans who submit a claim for disability benefits in obtaining evidence to support their claim. The VA's duty to assist begins when the VA receives a complete or substantially complete application for benefits from a Veteran claimant. Once the VA receives an application they are required to make reasonable efforts to help the claimant obtain evidence necessary to substantiate the claim. However, it is worth noting that the VA will not pay any fees that a custodian of records may charge to provide the records that the VA requests. The VA's duty to assist applies to two major groups of records, those in the custody of a Federal department or agency, and those that are not in Federal custody.
Concerning records in the custody of a Federal department or agency, the VA will make as many requests as necessary to obtain the relevant records. These records include but are not limited to: military records, medical and other records from VA medical facilities, records from non-VA facilities providing examination or treatment at VA expense, and records from other Federal agencies.
Concerning records not in the custody of a Federal department or agency, the VA will generally make an initial request for records and at least one follow-up request. However, follow-up requests will not be made if the VA deems them to be futile. Additionally, the VA has a duty to notify the claimant if they are unable to obtain the records sought.
If you have questions about your claim and the VA's duty to assist call the experienced veteran's disability attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. serve veterans throughout the Gulf Coast area, including, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Contact us today at 251-343-1111 for a free case evaluation.