§ 1.553aTime limits for Department of Veterans Affairs response to requests for records.
(a) When a request for records made under § 1.551, § 1.552 or § 1.553 is received it will be promptly referred for action to the proper employee designated in accordance with § 1.556 to take initial action on granting or denying requests to inspect or obtain information from or copies of the records described.
(b) Any such request will then be promptly evaluated and a determination made within 10 days (excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) after the receipt of the request whether the Department of Veterans Affairs will comply with the request. Upon determination to comply or deny the request the person making the request will be notified immediately of the determination and the reasons therefor, and of the right of the person to appeal to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs any adverse determination. Records to be furnished will be supplied promptly.
(c) Upon receipt of such an appeal from an adverse determination it will be evaluated and a further determination made within 20 days (excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) after receipt of the appeal. If on appeal the denial is in whole or in part upheld the Department of Veterans Affairs will notify the requester of the provisions for judicial review of this determination. (See §§ 1.557 and 1.558.)
(d) In unusual circumstances, specifically as follows, the time limits in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section may be extended by written notice to the requester setting forth the reasons for such extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched. The date specified will not result in an extension for more than 10 working days. Unusual circumstances will be interpreted to mean, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to the proper processing of the particular request, as follows:
(1) The need to search for and collect the requested records from field facilities or other establishments that are separate from the office processing the request;
(2) The need to search for, collect, and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records which are demanded in a single request; or
(3) The need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another agency having a substantial interest in the determination of the request or among two or more components of the Department of Veterans Affairs having substantial subject-matter interest therein.
(e) Pursuant to section 552(a)(6), title 5 U.S.C., any person making a request to the Department of Veterans Affairs for records under section 552(a) (1), (2) or (3) (see §§ 1.551, 1.552 and 1.553) will be deemed to have exhausted his or her administrative remedies with respect to such request if the Department of Veterans Affairs fails to comply with the applicable time limit provisions of this section. If, however, the Government can show exceptional circumstances exist and that the Department of Veterans Affairs is exercising due diligence in responding to the request, the statute also permits the court to retain jurisdiction and allow the Department of Veterans Affairs additional time to complete its review of the records.
(f) Requests for the release of information from files, records, reports, and other papers and documents in Department of Veterans Affairs custody pertaining to claims under any of the laws administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (covered by §§ 1.500 through 1.527) may also be initiated under 5 U.S.C. 552. Such requests will also be evaluated, a determination made within 10 days (excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) after the receipt of the request whether the Department of Veterans Affairs will comply with the request, and the requester notified immediately of the determination and the reasons therefor, and of the right of the person to appeal to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs any adverse determination. Records to be furnished will be supplied promptly.
[40 FR 12657, Mar. 20, 1975]
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