38 CFR § 1.577 - Access to records.

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§ 1.577 Access to records.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by law or regulation any individual upon request may gain access to his or her record or to any information pertaining to him or her which is contained in any system of records maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The individual will be permitted, and upon his or her request, a person of his or her own choosing permitted to accompany him or her, to review the record and have a copy made of all or any portion thereof in a form comprehensible to him or her. The Department of Veterans Affairs will require, however, a written statement from the individual authorizing discussion of that individual's record in the accompanying person's presence.

(b) Any individual will be notified, upon request, if any Department of Veterans Affairs system of records named contains a record pertaining to him or her. Such request must be in writing, over the signature of the requester. The request must contain a reasonable description of the Department of Veterans Affairs system or systems of records involved, as described at least annually by notice published in the Federal Register describing the existence and character of the Department of Veterans Affairs system or systems of records pursuant to § 1.578(d). The request should be made to the office concerned (having jurisdiction over the system or systems of records involved) or, if not known, to the Director or Department of Veterans Affairs Officer in the nearest Department of Veterans Affairs regional office, or to the Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20420. Personal contact should normally be made during the regular duty hours of the office concerned, which are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday for Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office and most field facilities. Identification of the individual requesting the information will be required and will consist of the requester's name, signature, address, and claim, insurance or other identifying file number, if any, as a minimum. Additional identifying data or documents may be required in specified categories as determined by operating requirements and established and publicized by the promulgation of Department of Veterans Affairs regulations. (5 U.S.C. 552a(f)(1))

(c) The VA component or staff office having jurisdiction over the records subject to the Privacy Act request will establish appropriate disclosure procedures, including notifying the individual who filed the Privacy Act request of the time, place, and conditions under which the VA will comply with the request, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Access requests for Privacy Act records or information must be sent to the staff office that maintains the records; the individual seeking access may consult the system of record notice (https://www.oprm.va.gov/privacy/systems_of_records.aspx) in order to identify the office to which the request should be sent. Each component has discretion to require that a requester supply additional information to verify his or her identity. If the Privacy Officer determines that the request does not reasonably describe the records being sought, the Privacy Officer will advise the requester how the request is insufficient; the Privacy Officer will provide an opportunity to discuss the request by documented telephonic communication or written correspondence in order to modify it to clearly identify the records being sought.

(d) Nothing in 5 U.S.C. 552a, however, allows an individual access to any information compiled in reasonable anticipation of civil action or proceeding. (5 U.S.C. 552a(d)(5))

(e) Fees to be charged, if any, to any individual for making copies of his or her record shall not include the cost of and search for and review of the record. Fees under $25.00 shall be waived. Fees to be charged are as follows:

Activity Fees
(1) Duplication of documents by any type of reproduction process to produce plain one-sided paper copies of a standard size (8 1/2″ x 11″; 8 1/2″ x 14″; 11″ x 14″) $0.15 per page after first 100 one-sided pages or electronic equivalent.
(2) Duplication of non-paper records, such as microforms, audiovisual materials (motion pictures, slides, laser optical disks, video tapes, audio tapes, etc.), computer tapes and disks, diskettes for personal computers, and any other automated media output Direct cost to the Agency as defined in § 1.561(b)(3) of this part to the extent that it pertains to the cost of duplication.
(3) Duplication of document by any type of reproduction process not covered by paragraphs (e)(1) or (2) of this section to produce a copy in a form reasonably usable by the requester Direct cost to the Agency as defined in § 1.561(b)(3) of this part to the extent that it pertains to the cost of duplication.

(f) When VA benefit records, which are retrievable by name or individual identifier of a VA beneficiary or applicant for VA benefits, are requested by the individual to whom the record pertains, the duplication fee for one complete set of such records will be waived.

[40 FR 33944, Aug. 12, 1975, as amended at 47 FR 16323, Apr. 16, 1982; 53 FR 10380, Mar. 31, 1988; 55 FR 21546, May 25, 1990; 78 FR 45457, July 29, 2013; 84 FR 12130, Apr. 1, 2019]