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M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, Chapter 4, Section G – Folder Maintenance

Overview


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:
Topic
Topic Name
1
2
3
4

1.  Maintenance for Paper Claims Folders


Introduction

This topic contains information on the maintenance of paper claims folders, including

Change Date

September 17, 2018

III.ii.4.G.1.a.
Maintaining a Paper Claims Folder

The regional office (RO) is responsible for maintaining Veterans’ claims folders and providing protection of their contents by
  • avoiding overcrowded claims folders in the file cabinets
  • replacing folders and envelopes that become damaged, and
  • taking appropriate action to address any misfiled
    • documents, and
    • folders.

III.ii.4.G.1.b.  Handling Misfiled Paper Documents That Belong to Paper Claims Folders

Follow the instructions shown in the table below to determine how to handle misfiled documents belonging to paper claims folders.
If the misfiled document belongs with a paper claims folder and …
Then …
no action is required
place a routing slip on the document and route it to the correct claims folder for proper filing.
action is required
  • establish end product (EP) control, if necessary
  • place a routing slip on the document
  • route the document to the correct claims folder for proper filing
  • add a note in Modern Awards Processing-Development (MAP-D) system indicating the type of document being routed to the paper claims folder, and
  • take appropriate action to address the misfiled document.
References:  For more information on

III.ii.4.G.1.c.  Handling Misfiled Paper Documents That Belong to eFolders

Use the table shown below when determining how to handle misfiled paper documents that belong to an electronic claims folder (eFolder) in the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS).
If the misfiled paper document belongs with an eFolder and …
Then …
no action is required
route the paper document to the intake processing center (IPC) to send the document for scanning.
Reference:  For more information on sending documents for scanning, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 1.E.2.c.
an action is required
  • establish EP control, if necessary
  • route the paper document to IPC to send the document for scanning, and
  • once the document is uploaded into VBMS, take appropriate action on the record to address the document.
Important:  If the misfiled document is time sensitive, take whatever actions it necessitates before routing it to the IPC for scanning.
Reference:  For more information on handling incoming mail, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 1.B.2.
 
Reference:  For information on handling a misfiled, electronic document, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.G.2.c.

III.ii.4.G.1.d.  Handling Misfiled Documents That Belong to Restricted-Access Paper Claims Folders

If a misfiled document belongs to a restricted-access paper claims folder, route the document for processing to personnel who are authorized to handle restricted-access claims folders.
Reference:  For more information on handling a paper claims folder at a restricted access claims center, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.A.4.

III.ii.4.G.1.e.  Handling Paper Claims Folders That Have Been Digitized and Uploaded to the eFolder

Pension management centers (PMCs) and some Veterans Service Centers digitized claims folders and uploaded them into an eFolder prior to the use of scanning vendors.
Reference:  For more information on the disposition of PMC documents scanned into an approved electronic system of records, such as the Legacy Content Manager (LCM), see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iv, 2.6.

2.  Maintenance for eFolders


Introduction

This topic contains information to assist VBMS end users with maintaining an eFolder in VBMS, including


Change Date

Februray 21, 2019

III.ii.4.G.2.a.VBMS New Mail Indicator

When new evidence or correspondence is uploaded into a claimant’s eFolder, an icon representing a new envelope will appear in the NEW MAIL column of the work queue and eFolder.
This icon, hereafter referred to as the “new mail indicator,” should be cleared on all documents upon completion of initial development.  All subsequent new documents should be opened and reviewed for relevant information.  This action should be completed by any employee handling the eFolder.
Example:

Screenshot of new mail indicator appears in VBMS

 
Note:  The new mail indicator may be cleared on multiple documents by first selecting each document and choosing the Mark as Open option in the ACTIONS drop down menu.
 
Reference:  For more information on the VBMS new mail indicator, see the VBMS Core User Guide.

III.ii.4.G.2.b.  Converting Documents to PDF and Uploading to the eFolder

When a document is generated or received outside of VBMS it must be converted into a portable document format (PDF), if it is not already in this format, and uploaded into the eFolder.
Use the table below to convert and upload a PDF.
If the document was created in …
Then …
Microsoft Word
  • complete all necessary development actions and letter adjustments normally made prior to finalization
  • review the letter for accuracy
  • finalize the letter with a visible seal when applicable
  • set the default printer to Adobe PDF, if available
  • save the letter as a PDF to the desktop, and
  • upload the document.
Note:  Upon successful upload, delete the PDF from the desktop.
Microsoft Outlook (e-mail)
  • open the e-mail
  • click the FILE tab
  • save the e-mail as a PDF to the desktop, and
  • upload the document.
Note:  Upon successful upload, delete the PDF from the desktop.
another program outside of VBMS
  • create a PDF by
    • opening the document in Adobe Acrobat Pro and saving it as a PDF, or
    • printing to Adobe PDF, and
  • upload the document.
 
Important:
  • To prevent file name conflicts, save the PDF document with a unique filename by using the
    • claimant’s initials,
    • type of document, and
    • date of upload.
  • If a file name conflict occurs, choose the KEEP BOTH, REPLACE EXISTING or CANCEL UPLOAD button that appears in the prompt box, as applicable.
Example:  A Hypertension Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) for Jamie Veteran, uploaded on October 7, 2017, could be named jvHTN100717.pdf.
 
Notes:
  • Converting Microsoft Word documents and e-mails to PDF for upload to the eFolder reduces the processing delays associated with printing and shipping a paper copy to the scanning vendor.
  • Claims processors must use Adobe Acrobat Pro to do a single-step PDF conversion; Microsoft OneNote should only be used when Adobe Acrobat Pro is unavailable.
  • Legacy appeal-related documents must include an appropriate, secondary category type label.  Secondary category type labels are available under the CATEGORY – TYPE:  ALTERNATE field.

References:  For more information on


III.ii.4.G.2.c.Handling a Misfiled Electronic Document Identified in VBMS

Upon identification of a misfiled document in VBMS, take action to relocate the document to the correct claims folder.
Use the table below when handling a misfiled electronic document identified in VBMS.
If misfiled document belongs to a …
And …
Then transfer the document to the appropriate location by …
different eFolder in VBMS
no action is required
  • selecting the DOCUMENTS link
  • clicking the checkbox for the document that is being moved
  • clicking ACTIONS
  • selecting Move from the drop-down menu
  • entering the file number in the MOVE DOCUMENT(S) prompt box
  • clicking LOOKUP to view all possible matches
  • clicking MOVE DOCUMENT(S) to move the document into the correct eFolder (a confirmation banner should appear), and
  • clicking RETURN to go back to the DOCUMENTS screen.
Note:  The claim processor can move more than one document, if necessary.
action is required
  • establishing EP control, if necessary
  • selecting the DOCUMENTS link
  • clicking the checkbox for the document that is being moved.
  • clicking ACTIONS
  • selecting Move from the drop-down menu
  • entering the file number in the MOVE DOCUMENT(S) prompt box
  • clicking LOOKUP to view all possible matches
  • clicking MOVE DOCUMENT(S) to move the document into the correct eFolder (a confirmation banner should appear), and
  • taking appropriate action to address the misfiled document.
Reference:  For more information on handling incoming mail, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 1.B.2.
a paper claims folder
no action is required
  • printing the document
  • placing a routing slip on the document and routing the document to the claims folder for proper filing, and
  • requesting document deletion per the procedures in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.G.2.gi.
action is required
  • establishing EP control, if necessary
  • printing the document
  • placing a routing slip on the document and routing it to the correct claims folder for proper filing
  • adding a note in MAP-D indicating the type of document being routed to the paper claims folder
  • taking appropriate action to address the misfiled document, and
  • requesting document deletion per the procedures in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.G.2.gi.
Reference:  For more information on handling incoming mail, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 1.B.2.
 
Note:  The RO must notify the Privacy Officer when misfiled documents are released during a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
References:  For more information on how to

III.ii.4.G.2.d.  Requesting a Document Deletion in VBMS  

Once a document is finalized in VBMS it cannot be deleted without requesting assistance from the VBMS Office of Information Technology (OIT).  There are several reasons a document may need to be removed from the eFolder.  This includes when a document was
  • incorrectly finalized (but not sent), and
  • incorrectly uploaded and contains personally identifiable information (PII) that violates the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Privacy and Information Security Awareness and Rules of Behavior.
Follow the steps in the table below when requesting deletion of a document from an eFolder in VBMS.
Step
Action
1
Open the document to be deleted.
2
Click the DOCUMENT PROPERTIES button in the top left corner of the document window to display the EDITABLE PROPERTIES fields.
3
Enter Review for Deletion into the SUBJECT field.
4
Save the changes.
5
Save a copy of the VBMS Request for Document Deletion Form to the desktop.
6
Complete the following sections of the form:
  • Reporting User
  • Priority
  • Reason
  • Veteran Information, and
  • Document Information.
7
Select Priority from the drop-down box when a document contains PII that constitutes a violation of the VA Privacy Act.
Notes:
  • Use of the Priority status is also appropriate for other document types, such as
    • incorrect rating decisions that are finalized
    • documents that require removal from the eFolder, so the document cannot be viewed by
      • a beneficiary or claimant
      • a Veterans service organization, or
      • other parties with access to the eFolder.
  • For all other document types, select Normal priority.
8
Save changes.
9
Send the VBMS Request for Document Deletion Form to a supervisor via encrypted e-mail with Review for Document Deletion Needed in the subject line.
10
Delete the copy of the form from the desktop.
 
Note:  Duplicate copies of medical records, exam worksheets, and VA Form 27-0820, Report of General Information, should not be deleted from an eFolder.
Exception:  When the document requiring deletion contains Federal tax information, follow the guidance in
 Reference:  For more information on managing a duplicate document, see

III.ii.4.G.2.e.Validating the Request for Document Deletion

To validate the request for document deletion, an approving official must authorize the deletion of any document that is associated with an eFolder in VBMS.
The approving official must follow the steps in the table below when a VBMS Request for Document Deletion Form is received.
Step
Action
1
Open the e-mail with the subject line Review for Document Deletion Needed.
2
3
Login to VBMS and navigate to the corresponding eFolder.
4
Open the document identified in the subject line as Review for Deletion.
5
Use the table below after
  • reviewing the form for accuracy, and
  • determining if the request is valid.
If document deletion is …
Then …
not necessary
  • provide notice to the VBMS end user via e-mail, briefly describing the reason the request was not approved, and
  • remove the Review for Deletionsubject line from the document properties of the document in question.
necessary
  • complete the Approving Officialsection of the form, and
  • electronically sign the document.

III.ii.4.G.2.f.  Preparing a Document for Deletion by VBMS OIT

The supervisor who approves the document deletion request from a claims processor must
  • change the document subject line to Approved for Deletion, and
  • transfer the document to the Unassociated Documents queue.
Important:  VBMS OIT will periodically run a report on the Unassociated Documents queue to locate and remove the documents that have been identified for deletion. For this reason, supervisors must use the specific subject line identified in this block.
Notes:
  • VBMS OIT may contact the supervisor if additional information is needed before processing the request.
  • Each VBMS Request for Document Deletion Form should be saved electronically in a central location at each RO, for use as
    • reference material when answering questions from VBMS OIT, and
    • a record of how the document deletion decision was made.
Reference:  For more information on editing a document’s subject line, see theVBMS Core User Guide.

III.ii.4.G.2.g.Establishing a Local Mailbox for Document Error Report Submissions

All ROs, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and decision review operations centers must each designate, at minimum, five PDF editors to receive and complete station requests to amend documents in the VBMS eFolder.  The editors must have Adobe Pro installed on their computers to perform the necessary edits.
Each RO must have a centralized mailbox for VBMS end users to submit aDocument Error Report to the designated PDF editors.  Follow the steps in the table below when establishing a local mailbox for Document Error Reportsubmissions.
Step
Action
1
Send an e-mail to the RO Information Technology (IT) staff and include the request for establishment of a corporate mailbox.
Important:  The IT staff should use the same naming convention when establishing the corporate mailbox.
Example:  DocErrCorr.VBAXXX@va.gov (VAVBAXXX/RO/DOCERRCORR) where XXX is the three-letter code for the RO (such as ALB, BUF, BOS, DET.)).
2
Complete a local area network (LAN) form for each designated PDF editor.
3
Send the RO IT Staff an updated LAN form for each person who requires access to the corporate mailbox.
4
Notify the local Information Security Officer of the mailbox email address and request Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) encryption.
5
Designated PDF editors must add the corporate mailbox and install PKI certificates.
 
Note:  PDF editors must be assigned a terminal digit (TD) range to receive and complete the requests to amend documents in the VBMS eFolder (such as User 1 – TD 00-19, User 2 – TD 20-39, and so forth).

III.ii.4.G.2.h.  eFolder Document Amendment

VBMS end users must follow the steps in the table below after discovering an eFolder maintenance issue that requires the
  • removal of a specific page from a document
  • splitting of a misfiled document, and/or
  • merging of multiple documents into a single document.
Step
Action
1
Open the document at issue and click the EDIT DOCUMENT PROPERTIES button in the top left corner.
Example:
Screenshot of EDIT DOCUMENT PROPERTIES button in the top left corner
2
Add Adobe Review Needed to the document’s subject line.
Example:
3
Save changes.
4
Save a copy of the Document Error Report template to the desktop.
Example:
DOCUMENT ERROR REPORT
Claim Number
Last Name of Veteran
Document Type
Document Receipt Date
Document ID
Summary of
Requested Changes
5
Complete all applicable fields of the Document Error Report.
6
Attach the completed Document Error Report to an e-mail.
7
Insert the Document Error Report and claims folder TD in the e-mail subject line.
Example:  Document Error Report – TD 49.
Important:  Do not include the entire file number in the subject line.
8
Submit the e-mail to the local mailbox designated for the PDF editors.
 
Important:  At the discretion of RO management, claims processors with Adobe Pro may be authorized to take the necessary corrective actions without requiring the submission of a Document Error Report to the local RO mailbox.

III.ii.4.G.2.i.  Removing an Incorrectly Scanned Document

PDF editors, or claims processors given the authority to perform the corrective actions, will determine if an incorrectly scanned document needs to be removed from the eFolder.  This action will be taken once the claim processor has completed the VBMS Request for Document Deletion Form and e-mailed the form to the specified mailbox.
 
Notes:
  • The document must be moved to the Unassociated Documents queue in VBMS while awating approval.
  • PDF editors are responsible for accessing and clearing out pendingDocument Error Reports on a weekly basis.
Reference:  For more information on working with unassociated documents, see the VBMS Core User Guide.

III.ii.4.G.2.j.  Merging Documents in VBMS

PDF editors, or users with Adobe Pro who have been given permission by RO management to make the required changes, must follow the steps in the table below when merging multiple eFolder documents into a single merged document.
Step
Action
1
With Adobe Acrobat XI Pro, select FILE CREATE to combine files into a single PDF.
2
Click ADD FILES and select the files that require merging.
3
Click DRAG AND DROP to reorder the files and pages.
4
Double-click on a file to expand and rearrange individual pages.
5
Press the Delete key (on the keyboard) to remove unwanted content.
6
After arranging the files, click COMBINE FILES.
7
Save the document as a PDF.
8
Name the PDF file and click SAVE.
9
Proceed to uploading the corrected documents to the eFolder.
 
Reference:  For more information on the responsibilities of PDF editors, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.G.2.i.

III.ii.4.G.2.k.  Splitting Documents in VBMS

PDF editors, or users with Adobe Pro who have been given permission by RO management to make the required changes, must follow the steps in the table below when splitting a document into multiple eFolder documents.
Step
Action
1
Locate and open the document marked Adobe Review Needed.
2
Move the cursor over the PDF menu bar located at the bottom of the screen.
3
Select the Adobe symbol on the right-hand side of the menu.
4
A menu bar will appear at the top of the document. Click the SAVE icon on the left.
5
Save the PDF to the desktop with a file name that includes the document type and date.
Important:  Delete this file upon completion of the document split.
6
Open the document and select the PAGE THUMBNAILS icon in the upper left-hand corner of the Navigation Panel and adjust the view to the user preference.
7
Select the page(s) that need(s) to be removed or split out of the document.
Note:  Select a sequential range of pages by

  • clicking the first page
  • holding down the Shift key (on the keyboard), and
  • selecting the last page.
8
Right click and choose EXTRACT PAGES.
9
Check the option box for DELETE PAGES AFTER EXTRACTING.
10
Confirm deletion of the page(s) that is(are) marked for extraction.
11
The page(s) that was(were) chosen for extraction will appear in a new PDF file.
12
Save the new document to the desktop according to the document type and date.
13
Save the original document to the desktop that no longer includes the extracted documents.
14
Upload the corrected documents to the eFolder.
15
Delete the documents saved to the desktop as part of the document split.
 
Reference:  For more information on the responsibilities of PDF editors, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.G.2.i.

III.ii.4.G.2.l.  Associating an eFolder Document to a Claim

Claims processors can associate one or more documents to a specific claim by using the TAG icon under the TOOLS column on the DOCUMENTS screen in VBMS.  This allows claims processors the ability to quickly review and manage all available documentation associated to a specific claim.
Example:

TAG icon under the TOOLS column on the DOCUMENTS screen in VBMS

Reference:  For more information on associating documents to a claim, see theVBMS Job Aid – eFolder Fundamentals: Associating Documents to Claims (Tagging Documents) & Bookmarking Documents.

III.ii.4.G.2.m.  Associating an eFolder Note

To document information or recent actions taken on a claim, users may add a note from any screen in VBMS that displays the ADD NOTE icon.  Associating a note to a Veteran or claim determines whether or not the note will be temporary or permanent.  A note associated to a Veteran is always permanent, and claim-associated notes can be temporary or permanent.
Notes can be added and viewed through both VBMS and MAP-D to document information or recent actions taken on a claim.  Notes should reflect actions that are not captured by a tracked item or development letter.
Examples:  Notes can be used to document
  • unsuccessful attempts to contact the Veteran, or
  • the reason for postponement of a routine future exam.
A permanent, claim-associated note in VBMS is required to document
  • the rationale for changing the date of claim of an EP
  • an explanation for
    • establishing an EP 930, and
    • cancelling an EP 930, and
  • the details of an EP 930 or quality review error correction, which must include the
    • specific corrective action(s) taken,
    • date of the action(s) taken, and
    • station number of the RO that took the action(s).
Follow the steps in the table below when associating an eFolder note to a claim.
Step
Action
1
Select the ADD NOTE button on the DOCUMENTS screen.
Example:
 ADD NOTE button on the DOCUMENTS screen
2
  • Select whether the note is permanent or temporary
  • input note text
  • select whether to associate the note to the Veteran or the claim, and
  • associate the note to the appropriate EP.
Example:
input note text in VBMS
3
Click the SAVE button.
 
Note:  Any VBMS user can view permanent notes associated to a Veteran’s claim; however, temporary notes associated to a specific claim are deleted when the claim is closed or completed.  Depending on access rights, only the original creator of the note, the user assigned to the claim, and persons with supervisor or administrator roles can view temporary notes.
Important:  Do not type anything in a note that would be seen as inappropriate or offensive by the Veteran, the general public, or the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.  State the facts only, not opinions.  Permanent notes become part of the Veteran’s record at midnight on the day the note was created and are subject to FOIA.
References:  For more information on

III.ii.4.G.2.n.  Bookmarking an eFolder Document

To identify any relevant evidence and add additional information as needed, a predefined bookmark may be added to any document on the DOCUMENTS screen.
The available bookmark icons are
  • MEDICAL
  • APPEALS
  • PEER REVIEW
  • WORKING NOTES
  • DEFERRALS, and
  • DEPENDENCY.
Follow the steps in the table below when bookmarking an eFolder document in VBMS.
Step
Action
1
On the DOCUMENTS screen, click the checkbox for the document that will include the bookmark.
2
Click the BOOKMARK icon in the TOOLS column and the BOOKMARK TOOL prompt box will appear.
Example:
Screenshot of BOOKMARK icon in the TOOLS column and the BOOKMARK TOOL prompt box will appear
3
Select the appropriate bookmark to be added, and then an expanded prompt box will appear with a comment field.
Example:
Screenshot of Selecting the appropriate bookmark to be added, and then an expanded prompt box will appear with a comment field.
4
Enter comment in the available field.
5
Click the X on the BOOKMARKS prompt box and the new bookmark will appear.
Example:
Screenshot of Clicking the X on BOOKMARKS prompt box and the new bookmark will appear
 
Notes:
  • If needed, the claim processor can add multiple bookmarks to a document.
  • When hovering over the bookmark on the DOCUMENTS screen, the bookmark will display the bookmark title and any associated comments.

III.ii.4.G.2.o.  Annotating Documents in VBMS

Annotations are useful electronic notations that can be added to a document to supply additional information or notes to other VBMS users.  Annotations generally contain information related to a claimant and highlight the details that are related to a document within the eFolder.
Follow the steps in the table below when adding an annotation to a document in VBMS.
Step
Action
1
On the DOCUMENT screen in the DOCUMENT TYPE column, click the ANNOTATE DOCUMENT IN NEW WINDOW icon.
Example:
Screenshot of the DOCUMENT screen in the DOCUMENT TYPE column, click the ANNOTATE DOCUMENT IN NEW WINDOW icon
This action opens a document in the Document Viewer.
Example:
Photo of document in the Document Viewer
2
On the Document Viewer toolbar, click the ADD AN ANNOTATION icon.
Example:
Screenshot of On the Document Viewer toolbar, click the ADD AN ANNOTATION icon
3
On the PDF screen, left click and drag to create a box in the location where the annotation should appear.
4
Release the left mouse button and the ANNOTATION screen will appear.
5
On the ANNOTATION screen, select the type of annotation to add from the list on the left.
6
After selecting the type of annotation, enter the text to appear for the annotation in the right panel.
Example:
screenshot of entering the text to appear for the annotation in the right panel
7
Click the OK button and the new annotation appears on the document.
Example:
Screenshot of Clicking the OK button and the new annotation appears on the document
8
On the Document Viewer toolbar click FILE.
9
Select SAVE to save the document that includes a new annotation and the following confirmation message will appear.
Example:
Screenshot of Selecting SAVE to save the document that includes a new annotation and the following confirmation message will appear
10
Click the OK button.
 
Note:  When annotating an award for record-keeping purposes, enter information into the remarks section of the document that briefly provides the reasons for the required action.
References:  For more information on how to add

III.ii.4.G.2.p.  Designating a Document as Having No Evidentiary Value

When a document is associated with an eFolder that has no legal, administrative, or historical value for a claim, users may mark the document as having no evidentiary value.
Follow the steps in the table below to designate a document in VBMS as having no evidentiary value.
Step
Action
1
Open the DOCUMENTS screen and click the checkbox of the document that has no evidentiary value.
2
Click the ACTIONS drop-down arrow.
Example:
Screenshot of ACTIONS down arrow
3
Select Mark No Evidentiary Value and a prompt box will appear that requires confirmation.
Example:
Screenshot of Selecting MARK NO EVIDENTIARY VALUE and a prompt box will appear that requires confirmation
4
Click the YES button and the document will move to the NO EVIDENTIARY VALUE document view.
Example:
Screenshot of Clicking the YES button and the document will move to the NO EVIDENTIARY VALUE document view
 
Notes:
  • To view documents with no evidentiary value, select MARK NO EVIDENTIARY VALUE in the NARROW RESULTS panel.
  • Select Unmark No Evidentiary Value to remove the NO EVIDENTIARY VALUE tag from a document.
References:  For more information on

III.ii.4.G.2.q.  Managing a Duplicate eFolder Document

When duplicate documents have been associated with an eFolder, users may manage them by using the MANAGING DUPLICATES feature located on the DOCUMENTS screen in VBMS.
The MANAGING DUPLICATES feature enables the claim processor to designate a document as
  • Best Copy
  • Certified Copy, or
  • Establishes Claim Date.
Follow the steps in the table below when managing a duplicate document in VBMS that has evidentiary value.
Step
Action
1
On the DOCUMENTS screen, click the checkboxes for the documents that are duplicates.
2
Click the ACTIONS drop-down arrow and select Manage Duplicates.
Example:
Screenshot of Clicking the ACTIONS down arrow and select MANAGE DUPLICATES
This action causes the MANAGE DUPLICATES prompt box to appear.
Example:
screenshot of MANAGE DUPLICATES prompt box
3
In the REASON column, click the checkbox to designate the document as
  • Best Copy
  • Certified Copy, or
  • Establishes Claim Date.
4
Click the SUBMIT button and the documents marked as duplicates will appear with ribbon icons on the DOCUMENTS screen.
Example:
Screenshot of Clicking the SUBMIT button and the documents marked as duplicates will appear with ribbon icons on the DOCUMENTS screen
 
Notes:
  • The duplicate document selected as
    • the best copy will appear on the DOCUMENTS screen with a blue ribbon icon in the TOOLS column, and
    • a certified copy will appear with a gold ribbon in the DOCUMENT TYPE column.
  • Any other duplicate document will display as a linked document icon in the TOOLS column and will not appear if users click on the HIDE DUPLICATES checkbox in the NARROW RESULTS section.
  • Users may open a read-only version of the document by clicking the document link or opening the document annotator by clicking the icon in the DOCUMENT TYPE column.
  • Users may also view the date the document was received in the RECEIPT DATE column.

III.ii.4.G.2.r.Indexing a Document in VBMS

When uploading a document into an eFolder, index the document in accordance with the VCIP Doc ID Guide.
Important:
  • DBQs that are completed by VA or non-VA health care providers outside the Compensation & Pension examination process and submitted by the claimant must be indexed as Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) – Veteran Provided.
  • Legacy appeal-related documents have secondary category type labels that can be affixed under the CATEGORY – TYPE: ALTERNATE field, with the following options:
    • Notice of Disagreement (NOD)
    • Statement of the Case (SOC)
    • Substantive Appeal to Board of Veteran’s Appeals, and
    • Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC).
Note:  Documents of an Unknown type must be relabeled.  If a category and type cannot be determined, use the subject line to briefly describe the document.
References:  For more information on how to

III.ii.4.G.2.s.  Using the Document’s Subject as a Note

To aid in easy identification of document(s) commonly used when processing a claim, use the document’s subject line as a note field.  This allows for easy identification of important documents when viewing the entire eFolder under the DOCUMENTS tab in VBMS.
The table below provides the subject lines for several common documents.
Evidence
Document Category
Subject
Representation
  • name of the power of attorney (POA) (abbreviated, if an abbreviation for the name exists), and
  • Revoked (if applicable)
Records Management Center (RMC) e-mails
Service Personnel Records
  • RMC request, or
  • RMC response
  • Personnel Information Exchange System (PIES) request, or
  • PIES response
Service Personnel Records
PIES request code, and
  • request, or
  • response
Reference:  For more information on PIES request codes, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 2.D.3.
 
Reference:  For more information on changing the subject line for a VBMS document, see the VBMS Job Aid – Editing Document Properties.

III.ii.4.G.2.t.  Manually Removing the Banner That Indicates Documents Are Pending Scanning

A banner indicating documents are pending scanning appears when an RO creates a Document Control Sheet (DCS) and ships material to a scanning vendor.  On rare occasions, the banner will remain visible after the material has been scanned and uploaded to the eFolder.
Follow the instructions in the VBMS Core User Guide to close the pending scanning status.  Leave a permanent, claim-level note providing justification for the action taken.
 
References:  For more information on

3.  Folder Renovations


Introduction

This topic contains information on how to properly renovate and protect folder content, including


Change Date

September 17, 2018

III.ii.4.G.3.a.  General Folder Renovation Policy

Renovate a paper claims folder as needed to protect the contents.
Perform any required renovation before transferring a paper claims folder out of the RO.

III.ii.4.G.3.b.  Renovation of Segregated Folders

Follow the steps in the table below to renovate a segregated paper claims folder.
Step
Action
1
Remove from compartment A
  • change of address notices, and
  • superseded stop or suspend pay notices and worksheets.
2
Remove from compartment D all material dated one year or older.
3
Check the material in all compartments for correct filing sequence.
 
Reference:  For more information on the type of documents filed in each compartment of a segregated paper claims folder, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.F.

III.ii.4.G.3.c.  Renovation of Non-Segregated Folders

Follow the steps in the table below to renovate a non-segregated paper claims folder.
Step
Action
1
Ensure all documents relating to payments, allowances, and denials are filed on the left flap of the folder.
2
File documents in chronological order, with the oldest document at the bottom and the newest document on the top.
3
Ensure replies to incoming correspondence are filed immediately above the incoming correspondence.
4
Remove duplicate copies of documents unless they contain notations of record value.
5
Remove the following documents if they have served their purpose and have no record value:
  • worksheets
  • control or suspense copies of VA forms
  • form letters
  • diary slips
  • routing slips, and
  • letters of transmittal.
6
Dispose of the removed material accordingly.
7
Duplicate the old folder’s markings on the new paper claims folder.
Exception:  Do not duplicate the markings on obsolete folders.
 
Note:  If an RO receives documents indicating a change of address or direct deposit/electronic fund transfer for a paper claims folder located at RMC, those documents may be destroyed after any necessary action is taken.  There is no need to transfer the documents, since RMC will destroy them upon receipt.

III.ii.4.G.3.d.Redacting Copies of Documents Containing PII for Multiple Individuals Prior to Providing Copies to a Third Party 

VA may not provide information that includes “personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” in response to a request for records under the Privacy Act or FOIA.
Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552 (b)(6), documents containing PII for multiple individuals must be reviewed for relevancy to a particular claimant’s record and copies must be appropriately redacted before providing to a third party.
Examples of documents requiring redaction include
  • copies of orders in which multiple Veterans’ PII is provided
  • write-outs or spreadsheets covering multiple beneficiaries, and
  • any information in which there is reason to believe the requestor seeks the information to commit a crime or cause harm.
At a minimum, redacted documents must
  • include only PII relevant to a particular Veteran’s records, and
  • ensure all other PII is totally unreadable.
Important:
  • Any document related to a benefit sought under the umbrella of an individual Veteran’s eligibility, but including another individual’s PII, such as dependency documents containing PII of a spouse or child, do not require redaction.
  • Employees should notify their supervisor when there is reason to believe the information requested by a third party will be used to commit a crime or cause harm.  Do not release the document(s) and/or information until receiving approval from management.

III.ii.4.G.3.e. Redacting Documents Containing Criminal Investigation Reports 

Documents in the claims folder containing criminal investigation reports must be replaced with a redacted copy.  For documents stored in the eFolder,
  • download a copy of each document containing criminal investigation reports
  • redact all PII not pertaining to the Veteran
  • upload each redacted copy using the same category type, source, and date of receipt as the original document.  The subject line should readRedacted copy of original document, and
  • request deletion of the original, un-redacted document(s).
The claims processor must leave a note explaining the action taken.  Use the table below to determine the content of the note and who is responsible for leaving it.
If the claims processor is …
Then a note must be left that …
submitting a Document Error Report to the RO mailbox for a PDF editor to redact the document
  • indicates the user has e-mailed a request to redact the document to the station’s established mailbox, and
  • provides the address of the mailbox.
submitting a redaction request to an employee who is not a PDF editor but is authorized by the RO to amend documents in the eFolder
  • indicates the user has e-mailed a request to redact the document, and
  • identifies the individual to whom the request was sent.
  • authorized by RO management to amend documents in the eFolder, and
  • performing the redaction
indicates
  • the document was successfully redacted and placed in the claims folder, and
  • a request to delete the un-redacted document has been submitted.
 
Note:  If the subject line of the document must contain other required language, use annotations to identify the uploaded document as a redacted copy of the original.
 
References:  For more information on

4.  Outdated Folder Notations


Introduction

This topic contains information about outdated folder notations on paper claims folders, including

Change Date

December 16, 2010

III.ii.4.G.4.a.  Policy on Folder Notations

Certain standard notations previously used to denote the existence or disposition of associated records or actions
  • are no longer required, and
  • must not appear on newly prepared folders.
Always use the current notation that supersedes the outdated notation.
Reference:  For more information about current, standard paper claims folder notations, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 3.B.6.b.

III.ii.4.G.4.b.  Description of Outdated Folder Notations

The table below contains a partial list of outdated folder notations.
Notation
Description/Action
POWER OF ATTORNEY [date]
Indicates a discontinued procedure to reflect the existence of a current POA on the folder.
Currently, a determination of the status of a POA requires a review of the folder content.
  • RETIRED FILE IN VARSC, and
  • CURRENT FILE
Denotes a discontinued procedure.
The referenced retired files
  • consisted of correspondence removed from claims folders
  • were retired to the VA Records Service Center, which no longer exists, and
  • have been disposed of in accordance with appropriate records disposition authority.
Current procedure does not provide for the creation of retired files.
R&E FLDR TRFR TO VA REC (SERV) CENTR [date of transfer]
Obliterate this stamp if noted during routine operations.
Folders transferred to the VA Records Service Center have been destroyed.
R&E FLDR LOC[name of RO]
Placed immediately next to the R&E FLDR stamp when an R&E (registration and eligibility) or Dependents Educational Assistance folder was located at another RO by reason of Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment workload consideration.

III.ii.4.G.4.c.  List of Additional Outdated Folder Notations

Other outdated folder notations include
  • DECEASED CASE
  • PAY RECORDS LOCATED ___________
  • RATED 1945S
  • REVIEWED UNDER PUBLIC LAW NO. 2, 73RD CONGRESS
  • REVIEWED LETTER D A 12-14-54
  • REVIEWED UNDER INSTRUCTION #3 SECTION 27 AND 28 PUBLIC LAW 144, 73RD CONGRESS, and
  • 7-195 FILED IN R&E FOLDER ON ___________.
Historical_M21-1III_ii_4_SecG_7-20-18.docx May 11, 2019 754 KB
Historical_M21-1III_ii_4_SecG_6-27-16.doc May 11, 2019 1 MB
Historical_M21-1III_ii_4_SecG_08-21-2014.docx May 11, 2019 43 KB
9-28-15_Key-Changes-M21-1III_ii_4_SecG.docx May 11, 2019 831 KB
7-20-18_Key-Changes_M21-1III_ii_4_SecG.docx May 11, 2019 725 KB
1-27-16_Key-Changes_M21-1III_ii_4_SecG.docx May 11, 2019 790 KB
Change-July-18-2015-Transmittal-Sheet-M21-1III_ii_4_SecG_TS.docx May 11, 2019 41 KB
Transmittal-Sheet-pt3_sp2_ch4_secG_TS.docx May 11, 2019 37 KB
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