Wood & Smith Legal Services, LLC

C-Files Are Crucial for VA Disability Compensation Claims

C-File Blog

C-files are crucial for VA disability compensation claims for several reasons.  When I first became VA accredited and began reviewing VA disability compensation cases, I did not know exactly what a claims file (C-file) was, but I knew it was important.  Every continuing legal education seminar I attended mentioned the importance of the C-file.  Why is it so crucial to a VA claim?  The short answer is: it tells what information the VA used to decide a veteran’s claim, whether the claim was granted, denied, or granted with a lower rating than the veteran believes to be accurate.

If a veteran has a PTSD diagnosis, but this diagnosis does not appear in the veteran’s C-file, this means the VA did not consider this diagnosis in making its initial decision on the claim.  Maybe a veteran’s C-file contains information on two different veterans, perhaps with similar names or Social Security numbers.  This could cause the VA to make an incorrect decision regarding the veteran’s claim.  Just because a veteran has been diagnosed with a certain condition doesn’t mean the VA considered that diagnosis or other information related to it.  If the information is not in the C-file, the VA did not consider it.

This is why it is so important for a veteran to obtain his or her C-file once the veteran’s claim has been initially decided by the VA Regional Office.  Reviewing the C-file helps the veteran prepare for an appeal by having a better understanding of how the VA reached its decision.  Information that may be in a veteran’s C-file includes:

  • Personnel Records
  • Medical Records, including the Compensation and Pension Exam (C&P)
  • Denial Letter (if applicable)
  • Ratings Decision and Code Sheet
  • Initial Application for Benefits
  • DD Form 214 (DD214 – Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty)

Depending on your particular claim and the stage you are in the process of it (initial appeal, second appeal), your C-file may contain more documents, too.

Once a veteran receives his or her C-file, the veteran may find the documents are not in order and are challenging to understand.  This is not uncommon, and it may take some time to put your C-file together in a way that makes sense to you and helps you see how the VA reached its decision.  Some C-files are also very lengthy.  Don’t give up!  Once the C-file is organized, it is an invaluable tool for every stage of the appeals process.