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To get my VA disability benefits, I need old medical records that seem unavailable. Any ideas?

Ken Little

Q. I am a veteran trying to get the VA disability due to me. To do that I need the medical records of my heart attacks 20 years ago. Both the doctor and the hospital say they no longer exist. Anything else I can try? This means a big difference in income for me. Especially now at retirement time.

A. Carol Waters, a public affairs officer with the Salisbury VA Health Care System, said that in some cases, the VA may conclude that a disability is related to military service even without “specific evidence.”

She offered this general advice in response to the question.

Waters said in an email that disability compensation is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to veterans with disabilities that are the result of a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service.

Compensation may also be paid for post-service disabilities that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service, and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even though they may arise after service.

“Generally, the degrees of disability specified are also designed to compensate for considerable loss of working time from exacerbations or illnesses,” Waters said.

Evidence required includes:

  • Medical evidence of a current physical or mental disability, AND
  • Evidence of a relationship between the disability and an injury, disease, or event in military service. Medical records or medical opinions are required to establish this relationship.

Waters said that under certain circumstances, “VA may conclude that certain current disabilities were caused by service, even if there is no specific evidence proving this in their particular claim.”

To apply online using eBenefits, go to www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal.

Other options are working with an accredited representative or agent, or going to a VA regional office for assistance by a VA employee.

Veterans can find their regional office on the VA Facility Locator page: www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isflash=1

Another option is calling VA toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.

For more information on how to apply and for tips on making sure a claim is ready to be processed by VA, visit the How to Apply page at: http://benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/apply.asp

Veterans in North Carolina can also work with local County Veterans Service Offices. To locate a representative in a specific county, visit:


For New Hanover County, go to:


Waters said that veterans are encouraged to visit the VA website for detailed information on benefits at www.va.gov.


How do I apply for a job at the new VA clinic?

What local community groups are helping active and former military adjust to civilian life?


User-contributed question by:
Warren R. Coverdell

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