The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) has been engaging in a practice of unlawfully delaying the release of records Veterans need to appeal denials of VA disability benefits. Veteran Esquire Legal Solutions, PLLC, has filed a lawsuit to seek judicial assistance in ending this unlawful practice that makes it more difficult for Veterans to obtain their benefits, and to obtain the records it needs to represent three Veterans seeking VA disability compensation.
Veterans Currently Must Wait Several Months to Obtain Their C-Files
The lawsuit was filed on February 8, 2018, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Veteran Esquire alleges VA withheld from release three claims files, better known as “C-Files,” from Veterans as part of an ongoing practice of failing to follow pertinent federal records laws. Specifically, the firm alleges VA has a pattern or practice of disregarding the timelines imposed by the Freedom of Information Act by processing requests for information about specific Veterans solely under the Privacy Act. This practice is contrary to long-standing federal precedents, and violates VA’s own regulations, which requires the government to apply provisions of both the FOIA and the Privacy Act in these records requests.
If the lawsuit is successful, the Court will order VA to produce the records Veteran Esquire Legal Solutions seeks, and to process all future requests for C-Files within the timelines required by the Freedom of Information Act – that is 20 business days, as opposed to nearly four-to-six months that the Agency currently takes. VA will no longer be able to hide behind the Privacy Act as an excuse for the delayed release of a Veteran’s C-File.
Veterans Advocates Need Timely Access to Veteran C-Files to Successfully Appeal VA Disability Claims
Without access to a Veteran’s C-file, it is impossible for a veteran to fully assert their rights while appealing denials from VA. Although the firm primarily focuses on representing Veterans before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, the firm represents three Veterans on a pro bono basis in their appeals at the administrative level before VA. “Veterans should be able to access their records in a timely manner when they are faced with a denial for VA benefits – they shouldn’t have to wait over half a year to examine the record to determine the appropriate course of action,” said Jonathan Davis, the firm’s founding attorney and co-plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Veteran Esquire Legal Solutions, PLLC, and its founding member believe that all veterans are entitled to outstanding representation when fighting to obtain their VA benefits. The firm represents Veterans and their families nationwide with appealing denials of VA disability claims, obtaining military discharges, and obtaining federal records. The firm maintains a Veterans Law and Policy Blog, and will continue to update on the case’s status as developments occur.
If you would like to know more, please click here to view the Filed Complaint. If you have any questions about this lawsuit, or if you are having your own issues with obtaining federal records, you may contact Veteran Esquire Legal Solutions at 1-800-679-0791, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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