The foundation of a Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation claim is the thorough and accurate documentation that supports it. This article elucidates the critical role that medical and service records play in the claims process, outlines the steps to gather these documents, and explains their impact on the outcome of your claim.

The Importance of Records

Medical records from during and after service serve as the bedrock of evidence for the existence and severity of service-connected conditions. These documents provide the VA with a detailed narrative of your health history and treatments received, both during and after service. Service personnel records also important because they chronicle your military career, including the duration, nature of service, and circumstances of your discharge, which are pivotal in establishing eligibility for benefits.

How to Gather Your Documentation

Obtaining medical records requires contacting the healthcare providers who have treated you, both within the military and civilian sectors. Requests for military medical records can be made through the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), which maintains service treatment records. For service records, veterans can request their Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) via the NPRC, which provides a history of their military career.

VA will ordinarily obtain a copy of your service medical records and your DD Form 214 (or equivalent) when you file your first claim. If you receive medical treatment by VA, it will already have those records. It must also obtain medical records from the Social Security Administration if the veteran has made a claim for disability compensation benefits in that system. It can help you obtain other medical records upon request.

You may also want to obtain statements from buddies or family members to document those parts of your history that are not well documented but that they personally observed.

The Impact on Your Claim

The comprehensive compilation of your medical and service records directly influences the VA’s ability to verify the service connection of your disability. Well-documented claims often see more expedient processing times and can result in more accurate disability ratings, which determine the level of benefits received. Conversely, claims lacking robust documentation may face delays or denials, necessitating appeals and further substantiation.


The diligent collection and organization of all relevant medical and service records cannot be overstated in its importance for a VA disability compensation claim. Veterans are advised to begin this process as early as possible, ensuring a complete and well-supported claim submission.

Gathering the Necessary Documentation for Your VA Claim