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M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, Chapter 4, Section B – Handling Mail

Overview


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:

1.  Priority Mail and Priority Mail Searches for Paper Claims Folders

 


Introduction

This topic contains information on

Change Date

July 11, 2015

III.ii.4.B.1.a.  Handling Priority Mail When a Paper Claims Folder Exists

When a  claim is received and there is a paper claims folder, the mail and claims folder must be sent to the scanning vendor.
Exception:  If clearly-marked mail for a priority claim (priority mail) is received for a priority claim, and a paper claims folder is located at the regional office (RO), the claim must be worked prior to scanning.
Use the table below to determine the process for handling paper claims folders when new priority mail is received.
If a paper claims folder is located at the RO and …
Then …
paper mail is received
  • attach the mail to the claims folder
  • route the folder to the appropriate activity
  • annotate the charge card, and
  • update Control of Veterans Records System (COVERS).
electronic mail is received
  • follow instructions at M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 1.E.5.d on processing mail received through Centralized Mail
  • pull the claims folder
  • annotate the file bank charge card
  • update COVERS, and
  • route the folder to the appropriate activity.
Note: After completion of the priority claim, send the paper claims folder out for scanning.
References:  For more information on

III.ii.4.B.1.b.Responsibility of Priority Mail Searchers

Individuals designated as searchers are responsible for locating claims folders charged out of the file bank within the RO.
Reference:  For information on general search procedures, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.D.

III.ii.4.B.1.c.Conducting an Expedited Search for a Paper Claims Folder

Conduct an expedited search when it is necessary to locate a paper claims folder on which priority mail or a priority request is pending.
Follow the steps in the table below upon location of a paper claims folder related to an expedite search request.
Step
Action
1
Advise either the employee or his/her supervisor about the need for removal of the folder from its current location.
2
Close the flash on the charge card by entering the
  • appropriate organizational element
  • date of charge, and
  • initials of the employee completing the charge.
3
Update COVERS to reflect the next location.
4
Hand-carry the folder to the appropriate personnel.

2.  Filing Material in Paper Claims Folders

 


Introduction

This topic contains information about filing material in paper claims folders, including

Change Date

July 11, 2015

III.ii.4.B.2.a.  General Policy on Filing Materials in Paper Claims Folders

File only essential material with evidentiary, legal, or administrative value in a claims folder.
References:  For more information on

III.ii.4.B.2.b.  Material Containing a Change of Address

Follow the steps in the table below upon receipt of material that contains a change of address.
Step
Action
1
Enter the change of address in the master record.
2
File on the left-hand side of the claims folder and do not dispose of any
  • source documents that contain data of record value in addition to the address, or
  • address changes that
    • are for a nursing home, penal institution, or fiduciary payee, or
    • cannot be entered and retrieved from a Hines master record.
Exception:  Dispose of any remaining material in accordance withRCS VB-1, Part I, Item No. 13-051.
Note:  For more information on address changes, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 3.C.1.

III.ii.4.B.2.c.  Filing Material in Paper Claims Folders

Use the table below to file material in paper claims folders.
Note:  If a folder is pulled for any purpose,
  • convert old side-filing folders to top-filing folders, and
  • ensure that material in the paper claims folder is filed appropriately.
Type of Material
Folder Location
Filing Order
  • award prints
  • overpayment material
  • all documents relating to
    • payments
    • allowances, and
    • denials, and
  • Share prints of name changes
Left flap
Top down, with the newest material placed on top
  • birth certificates
  • marriage certificates
  • divorce decrees
  • legal documents, and
  • any permanent type of adjudicative material, including Compensation and Pension applications in support of the claim
Center
Chronological order, with the material organized by date received
education material
Right flap
Top down, with the newest material placed on top
Left flap
Reverse file in the order shown at left
Rationale:  This filing order keeps the material on top of all subsequent documents filed.
Right flap
Reverse file in the order shown at left (e.g. VA Form 21-22on top and DD Form 214 underneath).
Rationale:  This filing order keeps these forms above the training material at all times.
Note:  If necessary, add a standard two-prong fastener to the right flap to accommodate reverse filing.

III.ii.4.B.2.d.  Filing of Folder Flashes

Use the table below to file flashes in reverse filing order to allow the flash to be folded back and remain on top of all subsequent material.
Flash
Location
VA Form 22-6564, Claims Folder Flash – Vocational Rehabilitation Trainee
Left flap of the claims folder
VA Form 20-6879, Overpayment Flash
Left flap of the claims or deceased Veteran’s claims folder

III.ii.4.B.2.e.  Limitation of Filing Excessive Material in a Paper Claims Folder

Do not continue to file material in a single claims folder if the folder becomes bulky and unmanageable.  Generally, a claims folder volume should be limited to two or three inches in thickness.
Reference:  For information on creating additional volumes of claims folders, seeM21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 3.B.4.b.

3.  Removing Material From Paper Claims Folders

 


Introduction

This topic contains information about removing material from paper claims folders, including

Change Date

July 11, 2015

III.ii.4.B.3.a.  Types of Material Requiring Removal From Paper Claims Folders

Remove the following types of material from the paper claims folder if it has served its initial purpose and has no legal, administrative, or historical value:
  • diary forms
  • reference and routing slips
  • control records
  • incoming transmittal or cover letters with no evidentiary value
  • envelopes and returned VA original letters with no evidentiary value
  • requests for civil service preference certificates
  • VA form and form letter requests for evidence (returned originals or file copies)
  • rating activity worksheets
  • flashes, and
  • computer prints not specifically required by directives.
Note:  Exercise caution in removing transmittal or cover letters submitted by a power of attorney.  These documents may state claims, assert or waive rights, or include legal argument.  Differences between a representative’s transmittal or cover letter and statements from a claimant or legacy appellant may raise important questions requiring clarification.

III.ii.4.B.3.b.  Removal of Material From Paper Claims Folders

Follow the steps in the table below to remove material from the paper claims folder.
Step
Action
1
Remove material contained in paper claims folders that is redundant or of no record value.
2

Dispose of the removed material under RCS VB-1, Part I.

Note:  There is no longer a requirement to return documents to the claimant.
Historical_M21-1III_ii_4_SecB_7-11-15.docx May 11, 2019 48 KB
2-19-19_Key-Changes_M21-1III_ii_4_SecB.docx May 11, 2019 43 KB
Change-July-11-2015-Transmittal-Sheet-M21-1III_ii_4_SecB_TS.docx May 11, 2019 40 KB
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