Disabled Veterans Sample FOIA Letter

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FOIA RequestHere are two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) letters.

The first one I borrowed from a law firm for disabled veterans requesting copies of their disability claim folder (which will contain your Service Medical Records (SMR’s)). The second is for disabled veterans requesting a copy of their Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) claim folder. These are two separate folders!

The request for the regular SMR will need to go through the regular channels of the VA.  The quickest way to the  Voc Rehab folder is to hand carry the request into the Voc Rehab office. Mix and match whatever language suits you best. If the first one seems too “teethy”, then alter the second to request your SMR’s.

If you check the bottom of this post, I provide a free eBook download of updated and more detailed FOIA and Privacy Act requests just like the ones I use to get my files.

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First FOIA Example

July 18, 2008

Privacy Act Department

Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office

575 N. Pennsylvania St.

Indianapolis, IN 46204

Re: Mr. Smith’s Claims Folder FOIA Request

css-xxx-xx-xxxx

Dear Staff:

I hereby request a copy of all documents contained in Mr. Smith claims folder, including, but not limited to, all documents in the right flap, left flap, and center flap, and the reverse side of any documents with writing on both sides.

Please note that this request for documents is being made pursuant to the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552a, as well as 38 C.F.R.§1.550 and 38 C.F.R.  § 1.577.  Your agency has a duty  to respond to this  request within TWENTY (20) DAYS of the date of this request pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552 (a)(6)(A)(2)(i).

Additionally, although an extension of time to respond may be requested, it may only be granted for “unusual circumstances.” “Predictable agency workload” is not typically considered an unusual circumstance as stated in 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(C)(ii).   Moreover, even to the extent that unusual circumstances could be demonstrated in this instance, the time limit for the extension is limited to “10 working days” pursuant to 38 C.F.R.§ 1.553(d).

Please also be aware that your agency’s failure to respond to this request within twenty (20) days may result in the filing of an administrative appeal with the office of the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs pursuant to 38 C.F.R.§ 1.557 and 5 U.S.C. §552(a)(6)(A)(2)(ii), and potentially, the filing of a federal lawsuit to compel the production of the information.

This may subject your agency to contempt of court and a fine, including attorney fees and litigation expenses in compelling the production of this information pursuant to 38 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(l) of the Privacy Act, and 38 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B) of FOIA. Thank you.

Very truly yours,

BIG NAME LAW FIRM (OR YOU)

_______________________________________________

Second FOIA Example

 

Name
(Insert Address)
(Claim Number)

(Date)

(Counselor Name)
Department of Veterans Affairs
(Address of Vocational Rehabilitation Office)

Re: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request

Dear (Insert Counselor Name):

I am writing to request a copy of my Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment file through FOIA. Please furnish a copy of my file to the above mailing address.

My file can be found under: (Claim Number)

I further request a full waiver of fees associated with this request. The information I am requesting is material to my claim for benefits from the VA.

If you deny this request, please cite the reason you feel justified for the denial, and provide me with information I will need to make an appeal.

Please contact me with any questions about this appeal via phone or email at (insert phone number and email address).

Sincerely,

(Signature)
(Typed Name)

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File for Compensation and Pension from VA — Disabled Veterans Guides

[…] your SMR’s from your local regional office. Mail in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Click here for a sample FOIA letter. Once you have the chance to review the documents, you can begin your own […]

Gary Tamsett
Gary Tamsett

Thanks this is great! I have been fighting the VA since June of 2010 when I lost my career due to knee surgeries. Today I was informed that i need total knee replacement on both knees. This will take several years to complete and recover. The VA will not pay for my time or convalscence pay or UI benefit since the Doctors have written letters of off work status. I receive 243.00 for my wife and I. At 59 yrs of age i’m broke and about to lose my home. I have sent every letter and script necessary but they seem to change the rules. Not sure what to do ? Can’t work no one will hire me because of my knees and connection to the Doctors, I have no income to live on except 243.00 the VA sends my wife is in process of Social Security this will take awhile. I have written many letters to the VA but the response is I done all i can and we are working on your case? By the way Thanks for your service? Joke!!Anyway I’ll try your way and send this letter to them for the request Thanks Gary and Cindy

Sam Riddle
Sam Riddle

Go to VA.gov to the VONAPP Page and apply for a non-service connected pension, if you mention that your homeless, the application will be routed to a Homeless Vet Representative in Milwalkee WS if I remember right. Apply for the pension ($900.00/mo) and then go for the disability claim… Sam Riddle

Alan
Alan

Is there an honest law firm who represents disabled veterans with claims?

Michael
Michael

The best advice I could give every veteran is that it really takes along time to get any disability from the VA. But this is your money and fighting for what is your right as a service to this GREAT COUNTRY. It has taken me 10 years to get some kind of disability from the VA. I made alot of mistake in handleing my own affair with the paperwork that I needed, and their has been times that I just wanted to say why deal with this kind of stuff. Now I’m getting alot older and my body is breaking down, and I’m still hanging in there. There is alot more information that can help you to start or to keep going in trying to get your disability, just hang in there.

Mac
Mac

I have to say, I’ve been fighting for my benefits for 20 years. Each time they give a little, like 10% or 20%. I knew I deserved more, because I was in pain even with the physical therapy that I received. I took a break for about 10 years because I got really frustrated, which was a big mistake. When I started back again 10 years later, I kept at it because I had nothing but time on my hand & God on my side. So, to make a long story short I started my appeals back in 2004 after going through with my local VA Office & since then they have been coming through very slowly. I call 1800 827 1000 a lot. I also signed up at ebenefit.com & send a lot or IRIS inquiry of which I get a response with 72 hours. Don’t give up, just make sure you balance what you get & modify your current living or financial situation until your claim/appeal is completed. I almost lost my house 3 time during the time of my last appeal. But, I have learned to save & been frugal with everything food, finance, friends & children. Everyone wants to be your friend when they think you have money. Best wishes, I will keep you in my prayers.

Charles
Charles

Thanks for the information. I’ve been sending out information like this to ALL the veterans because we deserve to be given our benefits due. We’ve fought for our country and this is how we’re treated.

I’ve been posting information on this website (www.newcareernu.com) and this is just the type of info people need to be aware of.

Thanks again.

Charles M.
http://www.newcareernu.com

Joseph M. Savala
Joseph M. Savala

I receive 30 % disability compensation and have been receiving it since I was discharged
with a medical retirement in 1965. Over the years I have received cola increase’s but that
doesn’t help. Now I feel I should be entitled to a larger percent of disability because of
the Illness that I aquired while I was on active duty and how it has caused me more Illness’s
over the years.

Is there anything you might be able to help me with to receive a higher compensation. Any
help would be greatly appreciated. I look forward hearing from you.

Thanks,

Joseph M. Savala

Nick Savage
Nick Savage

Google Ellis Clinic in Oklahoma, they will take all your files write a nexus connecting the dots for 500 plus 50 for each additional condition and they are award winning. There is another but he charges 7g’s but he will travel to anywhere if they deny you to fight it.

GL CW2 Aviator VN 67
GL CW2 Aviator VN 67

I was lucky and volunteered for a VA Blood Flow study for vets with Type 2 diabeties
I had a folder about 2 inches thick to prove my medical problems from RVN
I then had Prostate Cancer and got 100% for that period of time until determined “cured”
Then they tried to knock me down to 40%, had to go back and fight them for other problems incurred because of the Prostate Cancer, still have urinary problems etc. I did get it back to 70%.
YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU DESERVE. Each state is different in how they handle your case and any appeals. Get help from the American Legion, you need a representative to help fight for you.

Jack Robbins
Jack Robbins

Thanks for the info. I recently was given 40% disability for prostate cancer(Vietnam). I lost about 35% of my hearing in the service. They agreed that it was service related but said it wasn’t compensable. I no longer go out to social functions because all I can do is stand there and nod at people because I can’t hear a word they’re saying.

Prior to the prostate cancer I had pancreatic cancer that they caught early. They removed about 40% of my pancreas and my spleen. They say the pancreatic cancer is not agent orange related but no one in my family has ever been diagnosed. Both of my brothers are also vets but only I was in Vietnam. They are both older than I (I’m 60) and in perfect health. I’ve had skin cancer twice and am in the early stages of type 2 diabetes. And to top it off there’s a good chance I have leukemia. I have to have my blood retested as my last test showed a high white blood count and atypical lymphocytes. I’m also in constant pain from large kidney cysts, one of which has been drained twice (so far). Also guaranteed not agent orange related.

I guess I’ll try appealing the hearing loss ruling. Anyway, thanks for letting me vent.

Jack Robbins.

Bro. Dennis
Bro. Dennis

All cancers that a Vietnam Veteran has is Service-Connected from Exposure to Agent Orange. The Lungs filter (all) the Blood that is used in your body, all impurities that enter your lungs are filtered, so if you breathe in a Toxic Chemical, some of it can get into your blood and be distributed into your tissues, lymph nodes, and other vital organs of your entire body, and later in life you have a Cancer. It only takes a microscopic piece of
“dioxin” to get into your blood, that will later in life cause you to have cancer. Get a representative like DAV, PVA, Purple Heart, American Legion, they will help you and it is free.
MERB Retired Veteran (95C/95B w/Q9’er and 63E40) Veterans Advocate, Veterans Law, Veterans Rights

Shackleford Nanette
Shackleford Nanette

Jack,

Get you a good reputable lawyer. As long as you fight them on your own, they will be blowing you off! Get you a lawyer that will not settle and will not take no for an answer. My father was in the Gulf War and was one of those exposed to orange agent and it is breaking his body down as the years go by. He has 100%!
I am a Navy Vet and have experienced so much. Like others I was filing on my own and decided enough is enough so I have a lawyer that represent Veterans. Since my lawyer they are no longer blowing me off and they are taking me seriously. The things you do filing for help from the VA can be overwhelming and depressing.

Best of luck to you and all of the Veterans on this post! God Bless.

Manny Herrera
Manny Herrera

I was recently denied a claim for prostate cancer from the VA. I was stationed at Nakhon Phanom, Thailand in the USAF. Because of evidence contained in a declassified document called “The Checo Report” that was declassified, certain Air Force base perimeters were sprayed with Agent Orange, including my base. This was done in order to deny infiltrators to hide in the brush. I worked on the flight line during 68-69 about less than half mile from the perimeter. The VA claims that I did not work directly on or near the perimeter of the base. What I would like to know is how far from the perimeter is near the perimeter? What is their parameters? In Vietnam everyone was presumed to be exposed to agent orange, but in Thailand I would have to have been a perimeter security police, or worked near it. It doesn’t matter if I had red dust on my jungle fatigues everyday. Does the contaminated soil stay glued to the ground or does it spread through wind, aircraft, monsoon rain? My family has no history of cancer, prostate or any other. I intend to fight this ruling until they see the error of their decision.

GEORGE ADAMS
GEORGE ADAMS

CONTACT LARRY WESTIN AT [email protected],- 207.278.5502. HE WILL TELL YOU HOW HE GOT THE MAPS OF KORAT RTAFB SHOWING SHOWING DRIFT AREAS. YOU MAY BE ABLE TO APPLY WHAT HE LEARNED TO YOUR NAKHON PHANOM IN THAILAND. HOW CLOSE WERE THE HOOTCHES TO THE PERIMETER?

Jamie
Jamie

Advise on filing a new SC disability claim, asking for an increase in rating of a current SC disability claim or adding a new issue (disability) to your current SC claim. SEEK A VETERAN SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE (VSR) for FREE representation and assistance and appoint a veteran service organization (i.e. The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, etc.) as your power of attorney (POA) for VA purposes only. A VSR is accredited and trained to know the VA processing system. A VSR can be contacted through a VA Regional Office or a State or County Veterans Commission.

Jim Von Ruedgisch
Jim Von Ruedgisch

I am having a very hard time trying to figure out how the percentage works. I have over from different ratings 150% but only receive compensation for 80% it is a mistery to me. But I guess in most cases VA regional offices do just about everything they can get by with. I can tell you one thing if you don’t need to use Waco, Texas don’t, I have never known of them to do anything in the vetrans favor. Thanks for the information on this website i enjoyed it.
Thanks!

John
John

do a google search “VADisabilityCalculator.xls” it’s a spreadsheet someone created to calculate the disability ratings, you just type in the percentage and what it’s for, and it calculates it for you. it also explains the math a little

Resulting Percentage Disability Multipliers Disability Category
60 0.6 Leg
80 0.5 Ankle
88 0.4 Knee
91.6 0.3 Shoulder
93.28 0.2 Wrist

John
John

for example, if you have ratings of 60%, 50%, 40%, 30%, and 20%, the 60% is the initial starting point, then they take 50% of the 40% that you have remaining and subtract it from the 40% that is not disabled, then another 40% disability would be taken from the remaining 20% 100%-60%=.4, 50% of the 40% =20%, so 40%-20%= 20%, then take that 20% add it to the initial 60% to get 80%, another disability of 40% would be 20*.4=8% to make a total of 88% . then another rating of 30% would be out of the remaining 12% non-disabled part 12*.3= 3.6% added to the 88% for a total of 91.6% (which would be rounded down to 90% total disability) any further rating would continue from the remaining 100-91.6= 8.4% and so on …..

Sorry if I seemed a little confusing, and i hoped it helped.
John

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Compensation & Pension — Disabled Veterans Guides

[…] your SMR’s from your local regional office. Mail in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Click here to find a sample FOIA letter. Once you have the chance to review the documents, you can begin your […]

Robert W. Duquette
Robert W. Duquette

In 2002, I was granted a service connected disability benefit for Periodontal disease (for treatment only). With this I was able to see the dentist at the VA for treatment. In 2008 when I requested a re-evaluation as a secondary factor to my diabetis, my claim was denied and loss my dental benefit. I file a Notice of Disagreement and in 2010, I received a letter denying my claim, stating that I had rheumatic fever during my childhood which caused my periondontal disease, therefore not service connected. I never had rheumatic fever in my life and with the previous VA findings that awarded me dental benefits I once again disagreed with their results and file a request for copies of my record used to review my claims under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA). To date, I have not receive anything from the VA except a letter that my request is still in process and would take some time due to my previous on going claims on file. I’m starting to lose hope here, what should I do?

Robert

george
george

GET A VETERAN’S LAWYER THAT IS NOVA CERITFIED SINCE YOU HAVE FILED A NOD AND HAD ALREADY RECEIVED A REJECTION NOTICE. USE YOUR SEARCH BROWSER FOR (VETERANS LAWYER).J THIS SHOULD TURN UP SOMEONE IN YOUR AREA. THESE LAWYERS RECEIVE 3 YEARS OF TRAINING BEFORE BEING ALLOWED TO REPRESENT CLIENTS. YOUR ELECTED CONGRESSIONAL LEGISLATORS OFFICIALS ARE A GREAT SOURCE IN EXPEDITING YOUR CLAIM. THE LAWYERS CAN TAKE IT ALL THE WAY UP TO THE- US COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT, AND EVEN TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT. KEEP ALL RECORDS OF DEALINGS WITH VA, AND FILE FOR ALL OF YOUR RECORDS. TWO INTERENET ADDRESS FOR YOU ARE: http://CONGRESS.ORG/CONGRESSORG/DICTORY/CONGDIR.TT,& HTTP:VETERANS.SENATE.GOV – BE SURE TO ASK FOR NAME AND REFERENCE NUMEBER FOR FOR EACH PHONE CALL, YOU CAN EVEN RECORD EACH CONVERSATION.(RADIO SHACK ) HAS EQUIPMENT TO DO THIS. DON’T GO ALONE TO ANY DECIDESION REVIEW BOARD FOR YOUR NOD, TAKE LAWYER, OR CONGRESS MAN. RECORD THE REVIEW OF APPEAL

Ricky James
Ricky James

I had prostate cancer and radical surgery in ’99. Served in South Korea in ’69/70, found out Agent orange was used supposedly at some bases along DMZ. I was at a Missil unit about 20 miles south. surgeon spoke off record and said was probably Orange. I could not document contact, I filed claims but was denied three times. even had a senator and congressman working on claim but not any help. Now have lost 85% of my hearing, and have to wear hearing aids. Is there any way to process a claim with any hope of winning any benefits?

Robert
Robert

To;
Alan January 25, 2011 at 5:22 PM
Is there an honest law firm who represents disabled veterans with claims?

Yes there is. I have found a Great lawfirm that represents us!

Bergmann & Moore [ (877) 838-2889 ] *Please call them – do not use the online ‘Contact us’ section on the web site.

I have a friend that used them with great success. I am in the process of retaining them myself and they said they ‘Look Forward to Representing Me and Anticipate a Great Success of My Claim!’

I have spent several hours on the phone with them getting answers to all my questions and what steps to take next!
Good Luck ! Robert (Army)

Nick Savage
Nick Savage

Are you Benjamine or Moore lol.

Ssgt Richard Erens USMC ret
Ssgt Richard Erens USMC ret

If you live close enough to a VA Regional Office you can go everyday, if you like, to speak with an adjudicator and present your reasons either in writing or verbal to get a disability increase. I did just that and went from 30% to 100% SC, P&T within five years. Now that is a fact. Good-luck.

Ken
Ken

Jim Von Ruedgisch,

The VA computation for service disability is not based on adding up all the disability percentages. If you have 50% and 20% you would think it was 70%. It is based on the whole person concept, if you’re 50% from one then you are 50% not disabled. The 20% is based off of the 50% not disabled so 20% of 50 = 10. In this case a 50% rating plus 20% actually = a 60% rating. If another 10 percent is rated then it would be based off of being 40 percent whole and that 10% actually equals 4% which would = 64% but since the VA rounds in this case it is still 60%. Hope this helps.

Ron Pawuk, VFW Post Service Officer
Ron Pawuk, VFW Post Service Officer

You can use your Service Organization’s, (VFW, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Marine Corps League and etc.), Service Officer to assist you with completing your claims or increase request . There are a large number of SO’s that the VA recognizes. Each Post should have a SO. The State Dept’s of most SO’s have offices in the Federal Buildings where VA’s offices are located. They will handle your claim all the way to Washington if it goes that far to a hearing. You don’t have to hire a lawyer, who will take a big chunk of your award, to assist you. All veterans need to join a Service Organization, if you don’t belong to a Service Organization. The more members there are, gives us more clout in DC.

Ron
Ron

To Jim Vo Ruedgisch: If you are at 80%, you can file for unemployability. See your Service Organization’s Service Officer to file the claim. If you don’t belong to a Service Organization please join one. Most SO’s help all Vets whether you belong or not though.

Edward Dominguez
Edward Dominguez

I have also been denied numerous of time and frustrated with the regional office. Today just like in other day or evening sleepness carry a big toll on my mind and body. i decided years ago to come out of the woods and speak to someone VA (big mistake) since then limited to no help. All they want is for your or their records to come in once a year for blood work. I need more help than what I have been given (pills). Disgusted in Texas.

Edward Dominguez
USMC/Sgt./74 -78

Jay
Jay

Hello Gary. Contact Alpha at this number if you can’t get any assistance. I am positive they will be able to assist you greatly. 877.611.7724. Good Luck!

Kelley
Kelley

I contacted my VR&E counselor to get a copt of my file. She sent in the request. After she sent in the request I contacted the ROI(release of information) person directly and asked her if she had received my request and how long would it take to get a copy. She was able to have the copy completed within a few days. When I went to see my VR&E counselor, she started to tell me how she had spoken with her supervisor and due to privacy reasons they could not release my file. I told her not to worry, I had already contacted the ROI and she would be picking up my file that day. Hope this helps

george o stadler
george o stadler

I was 3 separate times, by 3 separate medical boards, declared 100% permanently disabled in 1956, not fit for military service, then my records were “LOST”, for 55 years, AMVETS GARY C DOUGLAS, has found them, sez the VA must pay me for over 55 years of back pay, now the case is in appeal at VA Regional in Los Angeles, I called them and they said it might take over 10 more years to resolve, must be true, they stall and deny until you die, I am 75 and going down now… bah humbug

joe
joe

i was drafted in 1968 and i had a permanent profile all through my two years beginning in the six week in boot camp until a month before i was to be discharged. they sent me to a doctor and he said i was fine and revoked my profile. so now I’m disable with a pension but not service related. i can’t get my social security because all these year i was disable and could not work……. joey d