Veteranclaims’s Blog

August 13, 2018

VA Record Storage and Control

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — veteranclaims @ 7:37 pm

Section A. Record Storage and Control

Overview

In this Section
This section contains the following topics:

 

Topic Topic Name
1 General Information About Record Storage and Control
2 Misfiled Folders
3 Records Requiring Restricted Access and Certification of Veteran Status
4 Safeguarding Records Containing Restricted Information
5 Records Pertaining to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse, or Sickle Cell Anemia
6 Control of Folders
7 Sequence Checks

 

 

1. General Information About Record Storage and Control

Introduction
This topic contains an overview of records storage and management, including

 

·  general policies for storing records

·  organizing folders numerically

·  Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) and Counseling/Evaluation/Rehabilitation (CER) folders, and

·  references to more information about folder management.

 

Change Date
October 10, 2012
a. General Policies for Storing Records
Adhere to the policies below for storing claimant or beneficiary records.

 

·  Store records only in designated cabinets.

·  Do not store records in desks or other unauthorized places.

·  Do not remove claimant/beneficiary records from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) premises for any purpose unless authorized by regional office (RO) management.

·  Folders stored at an offsite facility are considered “on VA premises” and must be treated accordingly. RO management must ensure

–  the offsite location, whether a government or private facility, meets all onsite security requirements and standards, and

–  all folders are tracked in the Control of Veterans Records System (COVERS).

b. Organizing Folders Numerically
When storing folders, organize them first based on the terminal (last two) digits of the file number that each folder bears and then numerically within each set of terminal digits.

 

Notes:

·  Depending on a when a folder was first established, the file number will be either the Veteran’s eight-digit claim number or nine-digit Social Security number (SSN).

·  Interfile folders bearing an SSN as the file number with those bearing a claim number as the file number.

·  Disregard leading zeroes in the file number when numerically organizing folders within each set of terminal digits.

·  When two folders have similar file numbers, one bearing an SSN as the file number and the other bearing a claim number as the file number, place the folder bearing the eight-digit claim number before the one bearing the nine-digit SSN.

c. DEA and CER Folders
The regional processing offices (RPOs) in Atlanta, Buffalo, Muskogee and St. Louis establish and maintain all Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) folders, which are now all paperless.

 

Exception: The Manila RO maintains DEA folders as a separate file series for those DEA recipients attending school in the Philippines.

 

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) divisions establish and maintain their own Counseling/Evaluation/Rehabilitation (CER) folders at their respective ROs.

d. References to More Information About Folder Management
For information about

 

·  establishing file numbers, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 3.A

·  determining folder jurisdiction, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 5.A, and

·  transferring folders, see

–  M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 5.D, and

–  M23-1, Part I, Chapter 14.

 

 

2. Misfiled Folders

Introduction
This topic contains information about misfiled folders, including

 

·  definition of a misfiled folder

·  checking for misfiled folders

·  handling a misfiled folder, and

·  action to take if the Beneficiary Identification and Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) shows a different folder location.

 

Change Date
October 10, 2012
a. Definition: Misfiled Folder
A “misfiled folder” is a folder that is not stored in the proper numerical sequence.
b. Checking for Misfiled Folders
Check for misfiled folders during

 

·  normal folder servicing (such as dropping mail, pulling folders, etc.)

·  folder sequencing checks

·  reconciliation of claim folders in “locked files”

·  folder retirement projects, and

·  other special projects that require the handling/rearrangement of folders located in locked files or the RO’s general folder storage area (commonly referred to as the “file bank”).

 

Reference: For more information about locked files, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.

c. Handling a Misfiled Folder
After finding a misfiled folder,

 

·  attempt to locate the VA Form 3025, File Charge Card, that belongs to the folder, and

·  follow the instructions in the table below.

 

If the charge card … Then …
shows a request for circularization send an e-mail to VAVBASTL/RMC/CIR to notify the Records Management Center (RMC) that the missing folder has been located.
indicates that a rebuilt folder is located at the RO follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.D.15.d.
·  does not exist, or

·  does not indicate the existence of a

–  circularized folder, or

–  rebuilt folder

·  use the Beneficiary Identification and Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) inquiry (BINQ) command to determine what BIRLS shows as the folder’s current location, and

·  follow the instructions in the table below.

 

If BIRLS shows the folder location as … Then …
the RO return the folder and charge card to their proper location in storage.
another RO follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.2.d.

 

References: For more information about

·  missing folders, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.D, and

·  using BIRLS, see the Share User’s Guide.

d. Action to Take If BIRLS Shows a Different Folder Location
If BIRLS shows another RO as the current location of a misfiled folder,

 

·  check with the other RO to determine if another folder exists, and

·  follow the instructions in the table below.

 

If another folder … Then …
exists transfer the misfiled folder to the RO with possession of the other folder.   That RO is then responsible for

 

·  consolidating the folders, and

·  notifying the RMC via e-mail (VAVBASTL/RMC/RCD) when consolidation is complete.

 

Note: Upon receipt of notification, the RMC will remove the rebuilt folder indicator in BIRLS.

does not exist the RO with current, physical custody of the misfiled folder is responsible for updating COVERS (which, in turn, updates BIRLS) to reflect the correct location of the folder.

 

 

3. Records Requiring Restricted Access and Certification of Veteran Status

Introduction
This topic contains information on locked files, including

 

·  definition of locked files

·  location of locked files

·  responsibility for managing locked files

·  releasing records stored in locked files

·  organizing and controlling claims folders in locked files

·  claims folders that must be stored in locked files

·  claims folders that must be stored at a restricted-access claims center (RACC)

·  storing other claims folders at a RACC

·  exceptions to the policy regarding the storage of claims folders at a RACC

·  claims folders ROs store in locked files only until they receive a claim or NOD

·  RACC locations, jurisdiction, and addresses

·  temporary transfer of a claims folder from a RACC to an RO

·  Veterans service organization (VSO) interaction with RACCs

·  means of identifying claims folders that must be stored in locked files or at a RACC

·  VA Forms 20-0344, Annual Certification of Veteran Status and Veteran-Relatives, requiring RO action

·  annual recertification requirement, and

·  disposition of the claims folder after death or after employment ends.

 

Change Date
December 19, 2014
a.   Definition: Locked Files
The term “locked files” represents a locked room or locked cabinet(s) where ROs must secure records (primarily claims folders) to which access is restricted.

 

Note: This definition, and the requirement to lock this category of records in a room or cabinet, also applies to records the RO maintains at offsite facilities.

b. Location of Locked Files
Locked files must be located in, or in close proximity to, the office of the Veterans Service Center Manager (VSCM) or Pension Management Center Manager (PMCM).
c.   Responsibility for Managing Locked Files
The VSCM/PMCM or his/her designee is the sole custodian of all material stored in locked files and is responsible for the proper handling of it. Specific responsibilities include:

 

·  filing, safeguarding, and releasing (upon proper request) records stored in locked files, and

·  maintaining a log showing the

–  date of removal of a record from locked files

–  file number associated with the record

–  name of the employee with temporary custody of the record, and

–  date of return of the record to locked files.

 

Important:

·  Records removed from locked files must be returned by the end of each business day.

·  If a document is added to or removed from a claims folder in locked files, the log referenced in this block must be updated to show the folder was charged out and back in, even if the folder never left the locked files area.

d. Releasing Records Stored in Locked Files
A record stored in locked files may be released only to

 

·  Veterans Service Center (VSC) or Pension Management Center (PMC) employees with a business need to access the record

·  the chief (or properly designated alternate) of the division requiring use of the record, or

·  the beneficiary’s or claimant’s recognized service organization or other power of attorney.

 

Important: The individual or entity to which the record is released is responsible for

·  safeguarding the record while in its custody, and

·  returning the record to locked files by the end of each day.

e. Organizing and Controlling Claims Folders in Locked Files
Organize claims folders in locked files according to the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.1.b. Control the movement of claims folders in and out of locked files by updating

 

·  the log referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.c

·  COVERS, and (as a local option)

·  VA Form 3025.

 

Reference: For more information about updating VA Form 3025, see M21-1, Part III. Subpart ii, 4.A.6.c.


f. Claims Folders That Must Be Stored in Local Locked Files
Claims folders that must be stored in an RO’s locked files specifically include

 

·  the claims folders described in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.i, and

·  the claims folders of Veterans that are

–  currently employed by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) or National Cemetery Administration (NCA)

–  currently employed as a Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) contractor

–  a relative of a VBA contractor, or

–  a celebrity or an individual about whom there is significant public/media interest, such as a candidate for a prominent public office.

 

Important: RO and VSC/PMC management may choose to secure other records in local locked files simply because of the nature of their content.

 

Reference: See the Notes in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.g for the definition of a “relative.”

 

g. Claims Folders That Must Be Stored at a RACC
A Veteran’s claims folder must be stored at one of the restricted-access claims centers (RACCs) listed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.k if he/she is a

 

·  current or former VBA employee

·  current or former intern or participant in a VA work-study program who works in close proximity to VBA employees

·  relative of one of the individuals specified in the preceding two bullets

·  Veteran on whose service a current or former non-Veteran, VBA employee’s VA benefits are based

·  current employee or relative of a current employee of a veterans service organization (VSO)

·  high-ranking government official, to specifically include those requiring the assignment of a sensitivity level of 8 or 9, according to Appendix A of Office of Field Operations (OFO) Letter 20F-12-04, Sensitive Level Designation for Regional and Area Office Employees.

 

Exceptions: For exceptions to the policy described in the above paragraph, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.i.

 

Notes:

·  A “relative,” for the purpose of this section, includes a living or deceased spouse, child, parent, or sibling.

·  RO management may choose to store a Veteran’s claims folder at a RACC for reasons other than those described in this block.

·  If a claims folder meets the criteria for storage in local locked files and at a RACC, store the claims folder at a RACC.

 

Reference: For more information about

·  handling claims from employees and their relatives, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 1.C.14

·  the length of time claims folders must remain at a RACC for former employees, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.q

·  storing claims folders at a RACC for reasons other than those described in this block, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.h.

 

h. Storing Other Claims Folders at a RACC
If RO management chooses to store a Veteran’s claims folder at a RACC for reasons other than those described in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.g (such as a conflict of interest), the VSCM/PMCM or a designee must prepare a formal memorandum that contains the following and send it in an e-mail to the appropriate RACC:

 

·  reason for categorizing the claims folder as “sensitive,” and

·  rationale for storing the claims folder at the RACC.

 

Reference: For a list of RACCs and their e-mail addresses, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.k.

 

i. Exceptions to the Policy Regarding the Storage of Claims Folders at a RACC
The table below describes exceptions to the policy expressed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.g regarding the storage of claims folders at a RACC.

 

If … Then the claims folder will be stored in the locked files of …
the claims folder is associated with a claim for pension, burial benefits, or Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) the PMC of jurisdiction.
an attorney-fee agreement is in place the RO of jurisdiction.
the claims folder is associated with a claim that is being or will be processed in a pilot program the RO of jurisdiction.
the claims folder is associated with a claim that is being or will be processed as part of a “special mission”

 

Example: Pre-discharge, claims-processing programs, including

·  Benefits Delivery at Discharge

·  Quick Start, and

·  Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES).

 

Reference: For more information about pre-discharge, claims-processing programs, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart i, Chapter 2.

an RO (other than the one where the claimant is employed) that processes the same type of claim.

 

Example: If a claimant working at the Winston-Salem RO has a Quick Start claim pending, his/her claims folder must be stored at the San Diego RO.

·  the Veteran’s record has been assigned a sensitivity level of 6, and

·  storage of the corresponding claims folder in local locked files is not mandated

–  under M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.f, or

–  for any of the other reasons stated in this table.

 

Reference: For more information about the assignment of sensitivity levels to Veterans’ records, see OFO Letter 20F-12-04.

the RO of jurisdiction until a claim or notice of disagreement (NOD) is filed.

 

Reference: For more information about handling claims and NODs associated with a claims folder that meets the conditions described in this row, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.j

 

j. Claims Folders ROs Store in Locked Files Only Until They Receive a Claim or NOD
If an RO is storing a claims folder in its locked files only until it receives an associated claim or NOD (as discussed in the bottom row of the table in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.i), the RO must take the actions described in the table below within five days of receipt of such a claim or NOD.

 

Step Action
1 Verify the validity of the assigned sensitivity level with the RO’s Information Security Officer (ISO).
2 Follow the instructions in the table below:

 

If the correspondence the RO received represents … Then …
a claim place the claim under end product (EP) control.
NOD ·  place the claim under EP control (EP 170)

·  create a record in the Veterans Appeals Control and Locator System (VACOLS)

·  transfer the appeal (in VACOLS) to the appropriate RACC, using the station numbers provided in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.k.

 

Reference: For information about using VACOLS, see the VACOLS User’s Guide.

3 Add the Restricted Access corporate flash to the corresponding corporate record.
4 Permanently transfer the claims folder and correspondence to the appropriate RACC.

 

k. RACC Locations, Jurisdiction, and Addresses
The table below displays the

 

·  name and VACOLS station number of each of the three RACCs

·  claims folders over which each RACC has jurisdiction, and

·  mailing and e-mail address of each RACC.

 

Name Jurisdiction Address
St. Paul RACC (RO76) ·  all ROs except the ROs in

–  Milwaukee

–  Des Moines

–  St. Paul, and

–  Denver/Cheyenne

·  all area offices except Central Area

·  Appeals Management Center

·  all human resources centers except the Detroit Human Resources Center

·  VBA Central Office, and

·  any other office/center not specifically assigned to the Milwaukee or Philadelphia RACCs.

Mailing:

St. Paul VA Regional Office

Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building

Restricted Access Claims Center (RO 076)

PO Box 11940

St. Paul MN 55111

 

E-Mail: VAVBASPL/RO/RACC

Milwaukee RACC (RO75) ·  St. Paul RO, and

·  Denver/Cheyenne RO.

Mailing:

Milwaukee VA Regional Office

Restricted Access Claims Center (RO 075)

5400 W National Avenue

Milwaukee WI 53214

 

E-Mail: VAVBAMIW/RO/RACC

Philadelphia RACC (RO74) ·  Milwaukee RO

·  Des Moines RO

·  Detroit Human Resources Center and

·  Central Area Office.

Mailing:

Philadelphia Regional Office

Restricted Access Claims Center (RO 074)

5000 Wissahickon Avenue

Philadelphia PA 19101

 

E-Mail: VAVBAPHI/RO/RACC

 

l. Temporary Transfer of a Claims Folder From a RACC to an RO
If a RACC transfers a claims folder back to the RO of original jurisdiction (for an examination, personal hearing, etc.), the receiving RO must ensure

 

·  the VSCM is aware of the transfer

·  the transfer was for a valid reason and is only temporary

·  the claims folder is secured in locked files

·  any necessary local action is taken immediately, and

·  the claims folder is returned to the RACC as quickly as possible.

Reference: For more information about handling claims from employees and their relatives, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 1.C.14.

 

m. VSO Interaction With RACCs
If a VSO has a question regarding a claim that a RACC is processing, the VSO may contact the RACC by e-mail, using the e-mail addresses shown in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.k.
n. Means of Identifying Claims Folders That Must Be Stored in Locked Files or at a RACC
The individuals listed below must complete VA Form 20-0344, Annual Certification of Veteran Status and Veteran-Relatives, on the first day of employment/reemployment at, or transfer into, an RO:

 

·  VA employees and contractors

·  VSO employees

·  VA interns, and

·  participants in VA work-study programs.

 

Notes:

·  The individuals listed in the above paragraph are responsible for immediately notifying their supervisors (who, in turn, must notify the RO’s ISO) if a claims folder is created for them or a relative after employment begins.

·  Human Resources Liaisons at each RO are responsible for notifying the ISO if an employee, intern, or work-study participant stops working for VBA or transfers out of the RO.

·  Each RO must establish local procedures to ensure the RO and ISO are timely notified of the termination of employment or transfer of any non-VBA employee for whom the RO possesses a VA Form 20-0344.

·  Each RO must

–  establish a local policy for periodically reviewing a list (obtainable from the local ISO) of all claims folders in its custody that require storage in locked files or at a RACC, and

–  relocate any claims folders that are being stored in the wrong location.

o. VA Forms 20-0344 Requiring RO Action
The table below describes the action an RO must take when an employee indicates on VA Form 20-0344 that he/she

 

·  is a Veteran, and/or

·  has a relative who is a Veteran.

 

Note: For the purposes of this block, an employee includes any of the individuals listed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.n.

 

Step Action
1 The RO’s ISO prepares VA Form 20-0344a, Notification of an Employee or Employee-Relative Claims File, for the claims folder of each

 

·  employee who is a Veteran, and

·  Veteran who is the relative of an employee.

 

Exception: The ISO does not prepare VA Form 20-0334a for

·  the claims folders of relatives of VA employees in non-VBA positions, or

·  electronic claims folders (eFolders). (If an eFolder exists, the ISO will note this on the corresponding VA Form 20-0344.)

2 If the employee is a Veteran, the ISO links his/her claim number to his/her VBA computer system account (if an account exists).

 

Note: If a non-Veteran employee is receiving VA benefits as a dependent of a Veteran, the ISO links that Veteran’s claim number to the employee’s VBA computer system account.

3 The ISO assigns the appropriate level of sensitivity to each Veteran’s electronic records.

 

Example: Electronic records exist in

·  Virtual VA

·  BIRLS

·  the Veterans Service Network (VETSNET), and

·  the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS).

 

References: For information about the assignment of sensitivity levels, see OFO Letter 20F-12-04.

4 The ISO routes a photocopy of each VA Form 20-0334a to the VSCM/PMCM of the RO where the corresponding claims folder is located.
5 Upon receipt of VA Form 20-0334a, the VSCM/PMCM or a designee

 

·  pulls the Veteran’s claims folder

·  reverse files the form on the right-hand flap, and

·  relocates the claims folder according to instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.f and g.

 

Important: If the provisions of M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.g require storage of a new employee’s claims folder at a RACC, the RO with custody of the claims folder is responsible for transferring the folder to the appropriate RACC within five business days of the date the employee reports for his/her first day of work.

 

Reference: For more detailed information about handling VA Form 20-0344 and 20-0344a, see Attachment A of OFO Letter 20F-11-08, Annual Employee Certification of Veteran Status and Veteran-Relatives (VA Form 20-0344).

p. Annual Recertification Requirement
VBA requires the same individuals listed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.n to annually recertify

 

·  their status as a Veteran, and

·  the existence of relatives (living or deceased) who are Veterans.

 

Individuals may recertify by submitting a signed memorandum or a digitally signed e-mail unless any of the information VA Form 20-0344 requests has changed since the last submission. If the information has changed, VBA requires completion and resubmission of the form.

 

Reference: For more information about the recertification process, see OFO Letter 20F-11-08.

q. Disposition of the Claims Folder After Death or After Employment Ends
The table below describes the process that takes place once storage at a RACC or in locked files is no longer required because of death or termination of employment.

 

Important: The claims folder of a former VBA employee and his/her relative(s) must remain at a RACC for three years after

 

·  employment ends, or

·  the employee or relative dies.

 

Stage Description
1 The ISO at the RO where the employee worked takes the actions described in the table below:

 

If … Then the ISO …
·  employment ended, or

·  the employee died

·  enters the date employment ended or the date of death (whichever is applicable) in Part II of the VA Form 20-0344a the ISO initially created for the

–  employee, and/or

–  employee’s relative(s), and

·  routes the form to the RACC or VSCM/PMCM of the RO with custody of the corresponding claims folder.

the relative of an employee died ·  enters the date of death in Part II of the relative’s VA Form 20-0344a, and

·  routes the form to the RACC or VSCM/PMCM of the RO with custody of the relative’s claims folder.

2 Upon receipt of VA Form 20-0344a, the RACC or VSCM/PMCM (or designee) of the RO with custody of the claims folder files down the form in the corresponding claims folder.
3 ·  If a RACC has custody of the claims folder, the RACC permanently transfers the claims folder back to the location from which it originated (an RO or VA’s Records Management Center).

·  If an RO has custody of the claims folder, the VSCM/PMCM (or a designee) moves the claims folder out of locked files and into the RO’s general file bank.

 

Important:

·  The date of departure of an employee on terminal sick leave does not represent the date employment ended.

·  ROs may not transfer out claims folders to another RO based solely on receipt of VA Form 20-0344a.

 

 

4. Safeguarding Records Containing Restricted Information

 

Change Date
October 10, 2012
a. Handling Records Containing Restricted Information
Follow the steps in the table below upon identification of a record containing information that is of such a confidential nature that

 

·  restricting access to the record is warranted, and

·  filing the record in a claims folder would not adequately safeguard it from being accessed by those without a business need to view it.

 

Example: A confidential report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

 

Step Action
1 Place the record containing restricted information in an opaque and windowless envelope.
2 Label the front of the envelope with the claim number and a brief description of the envelope’s contents.
3 ·  Complete VA Form 70-3797, Cross-Reference to Confidential Report, indicating the existence and location of the restricted record, and

·  file the form on the inside, left flap of the claims folder or other file involved.

 

Important:

·  VA Form 70-3797 must remain on top of all other material in the claims folder at all times.

·  If the claims folder is temporarily unavailable when VA Form 70-3797 is completed, retain the form in the same storage location vacated by the claims folder.

 

Reference: For more information about segregated claims folders, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.F.21.

4 Secure the restricted record in locked files.

 

Reference: For more information about locked files, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.3.

 

 

5. Records Pertaining to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse, or Sickle Cell Anemia

Introduction
This topic contains information about handling records pertaining to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sickle cell anemia, including

 

 

·  confidentiality requirement under 38 U.S.C. 7332

·  VHA responsibilities

·  copies of records on loan from VHA

·  records a claimant or beneficiary submits to an RO

·  other records that may be kept in the claims folder, and

·  POA access to confidential records.

 

Change Date
October 10, 2012
a.   Confidentiality Requirement Under 38 U.S.C. 7332
38 U.S.C. 7332 requires the confidentiality of VA records pertaining to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sickle cell anemia.

 

This statue also requires the confidentiality of information received, obtained, or maintained by an employee or contractor of VA for the purpose of performing HIV, AIDS, alcoholism, drug abuse, or sickle cell anemia program functions regarding an identifiable patient.

 

For the purpose of this block, a program function includes

 

·  treatment

·  rehabilitation

·  education

·  training

·  evaluation, and

·  research.

b. VHA Responsibilities
VHA is responsible for identifying and permanently maintaining any original VA records pertaining to HIV or AIDS, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sickle cell anemia.

 

VHA specifically identifies these records as falling under the purview of 38 U.S.C. 7332.

c. Copies of Records on Loan From VHA
For the purpose of processing benefit claims, VHA loans copies of records pertaining to HIV or AIDS, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sickle cell anemia to the RO.

 

RO personnel must

 

·  make no additional copies of these records, and

·  destroy the copies in accordance with RCS VB-1, Part I, Item No. 13-052.300 after completing adjudication or other proceedings.

d. Records a Claimant or Beneficiary Submits to an RO
It is acceptable for an RO to keep VA records pertaining to HIV or AIDS, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sickle cell anemia in a claimant’s or beneficiary’s claims folder if the claimant or beneficiary submits them to the RO.   However, the RO must advise the claimant/beneficiary that because the RO may request and obtain copies of the same records from the VA medical facility having custody of them, the records do not need to remain in the claims folder unless the claimant/beneficiary so desires.

 

Important: Do not disclose the records without the claimant’s/beneficiary’s consent. Send him/her VA Form 10-5345, Request for and Consent to Release of Medical Records Protected by 38 U.S.C. 7332, if consent is necessary.

e. Other Records That May Be Kept in the Claims Folder
It is acceptable to keep the following records pertaining to HIV or AIDS, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sickle cell anemia in a claims folder:

 

·  reports of VA examinations conducted for the purpose of evaluating HIV or AIDS, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sickle cell anemia (The provisions of 38 U.S.C. 7332 do not apply to these reports.), and

·  records pertaining to HIV or AIDS, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sickle cell anemia that originated from non-VA programs.

 

Important: Do not disclose these records without the claimant’s/beneficiary’s consent.

f. POA Access to Confidential Records
A representative holding a valid power of attorney (POA) may not access records pertaining to HIV or AIDS, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sickle cell anemia unless the claimant has

 

·  submitted a signed statement granting access, or

·  specifically authorized access on

–  VA Form 21-22, Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant’s Representative

–  VA Form 21-22a, Appointment of Individual as Claimant’s Representative, or

–  VA Form 10-5345, Request and Authorization to Release Medical Records or Health Information.

 

 

6. Control of Folders

Introduction
This topic contains information about the control of folders, including

 

·  tracking folders using COVERS

·  schedule for updating COVERS

·  tracking the removal of folders from the file bank

·  requisitioning individual folders, and

·  tracking the movement of folders outside their normal storage area.

 

Change Date
October 10, 2012
a. Tracking Folders Using COVERS
All ROs must use COVERS to track the location of folders. This includes folders an RO moves to an offsite, government- or privately owned storage facility.

 

Individual ROs may customize the names they assign to most folder locations in COVERS to fit their individual circumstances and needs. The more specific the location and its corresponding name, the more useful COVERS will be in locating folders.

 

Examples: An RO may identify the location of claims folders it

·  sets aside for local quality review by naming the location QRVIEW, or

·  moves to a Federal records center by naming the location FRC.

 

Reference: For information about using COVERS, see the COVERS User Guide.

b. Schedule for Updating COVERS
RO management must ensure all folders that are charged out of the file bank are “re-COVERED” at least once each week to ensure the current location of these folders is correctly reflected in COVERS.
c. Tracking the Removal of Folders From the File Bank
Always update COVERS when removing a folder from the file bank.

 

In addition to COVERS, ROs may also choose to update VA Form 3025 to reflect the

 

·  mail routing symbol of the organizational element to which the folder will be delivered

·  type of mail or form number that necessitated pulling the folder

·  date the folder was pulled from storage, and

·  initials of the person who pulled the folder.

d.   Requisitioning Individual Folders
To requisition individual folders, use either

 

·  COVERS, or

·  VA Form 70-3770, Requisition for Numbered Folder.

 

Note: As required, VA Form 70-3770 may also serve as a record of folders located within an operating element.

e. Tracking the Movement of Folders Outside Their Normal Storage Area
Update COVERS to reflect the movement of individual folders from one organizational element to another or, within an operating element, from one individual to another.

 

Notes:

·  If COVERS is unavailable, use VA Form 20-3770a, Notification of Recharge of Numbered Folder.

·  As required, VA Form 20-3770a may also serve as a record of folders located within an operating element.

 

 

7. Sequence Checks

Introduction
This topic contains information on sequence checks, including

 

·  definition of “file sequence check”

·  schedule for conducting sequence checks, and

·  steps for conducting a sequence check.

 

Change Date
October 10, 2012
a.   Definition: File Sequence Check
A “file sequence check” consists of a review of folders in the file bank and locked files to ensure

 

·  every folder is in strict numerical sequence within each terminal digit, and

·  DEA folders are properly interfiled with claims folders.

 

Note: Active DEA folders used by the RPOs in Atlanta, Buffalo, Muskogee, and St. Louis are now all paperless.

b. Schedule for Conducting Sequence Checks
RO management must establish a schedule to ensure completion of a sequence check of all folders in the file bank and locked files at least once a year.
c. Steps for Conducting a Sequence Check
Follow the steps in the table below when conducting a sequence check.

 

Step Action
1 Remove charge cards that are eligible for disposal.
2 Pull and fix folders in need of repair.
3 Shift folders to avoid overcrowding.
4 Maintain documentation of the sequence checks performed.

 

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