Wood & Smith Legal Services, LLC

How to Get Your C-File

Microscope C-file blog

Last week, our blog discussed what a C-file (claims file) is and why it is important to veterans seeking VA benefits.  Today, our blog focuses on how to get your C-file from the VA.  If your claim for disability compensation or pension has been denied, your C-file is very important to appealing your claim.

Here are a few ways to request your C-file:

  1. Travel to your local VA Regional Office and request a copy of your C-file.
  2. Complete VA Form 3288 and mail it to your VA Regional Office.
  3. Submit a FOIA request to the VA.

Of these methods, submitting a FOIA request may result in obtaining your C-file faster than the other two methods, and it doesn’t require travel, which may make it an easier option for many veterans.

If you would prefer to travel to your VA Regional Office to request your C-file, calling ahead to schedule an appointment might be helpful so the VA knows you are coming and what you are seeking.  This doesn’t mean a copy of your C-file will be ready for you as soon as you arrive at the VA, and even with an appointment, it may take you awhile to actually receive a copy of your C-file.  It never hurts to schedule an appointment, though, in the hopes it will speed up the time you wait for your C-file.

The second option listed is to complete VA Form 3288.  This option might work for you, but based on our experience, you will probably receive your C-file faster by a) traveling to your VA regional office to request it, or b) submitting a FOIA request, which is explained in the below paragraph.  Still, completing this form is an option.

The third option is to submit a FOIA request for your C-file.  The VA’s website even provides a brief explanation about making a FOIA request.  If you submit a FOIA request, keep these requirements in mind (they are also listed on the VA’s website in the above link):

  • The request must be in writing.
  • The request should adequately describe the documents, such as the C-file.
  • The request should include a phone number or email address where you may be reached.
  • The request should be sent to the correct facility.  In the case of a FOIA request for a veteran’s C-file, here is the list of VA regional offices and their FOIA officers posted on the VA website as of October 11, 2014.  A veteran’s FOIA request should generally be sent to the FOIA officer at the veteran’s regional office.

Another requirement listed on the VA’s website is the FOIA request should mention the requester agrees to pay fees or asks for a fee waiver while also providing a reason for the fee waiver.  However, veterans are eligible to receive the first copy of their C-file for free.  After a veteran receives his or her first copy of the C-file, though, he or she would need to pay fees associated with producing additional copies or request a waiver of fees.

Here is a sample FOIA request provided on the VA’s website.