The VA VHA operates clinics, hospitals, medical centers, and long-term healthcare
facilities (nursing homes) that provide healthcare to former service members. Each
VHA medical facility maintains electronic patient records.
The health information manager and privacy officer at each VHA medical facility work
with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the disability determination services
(DDS) medical and professional relations officers (MPRO) to coordinate the process
for release of patient health information. VHA medical facilities usually transmit
claimant health records to SSA and the DDS in the SSA-DDS Standard Health Summary
format. VHA medical facilities provide copies of other specifically requested supplemental
records separately via mail, fax, or the Electronic Record Express (ERE) upon receipt
of a customized request for records. The VHA does not disclose medical records to
SSA or the DDS without a valid form SSA-827 (Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration).
When SSA Field Office (FO) transfers an initial electronic claim to the DDS, the system
automatically generates a request for records via Medical Evidence Gathering and Analysis
through the Health Information Technology (MEGAHIT) system to VHA facilities nationally
and internationally. An electronically signed SSA-827 (e827) is required in order
to obtain the SSA Standard Health Summary for initial claims.
IMPORTANT: To avoid duplicative records, the DDS must review records obtained via MEGAHIT before
initiating requests for records to the VHA.
NOTE: The DDS may also need to request a veteran’s military health system medical records.
Military health system records cover medical treatment provided while the claimant
was on active duty. These records are held at a VA Regional Office (VARO) or the VA
Records Management Center (VARMC). These VA offices are not part of the VHA and they
do not hold VHA medical records. Instead, these VA offices hold military health system
medical records of service members discharged from active duty military service.
For related instructions, see DI 22505.023 Developing Medical Evidence of Record (MER) from Military Health Sources.