Wisconsin Administrative Code
(VA) - Department of Veterans Affairs
VA 1 - General
VA 1.10 - Release of information and records
§ VA 1.10. Release of information and records
All records and papers of the department or of a county veterans service office, hereinafter in this section referred to as service office, are to be utilized in a manner to best serve the public interest, but the veteran's right of privacy as to information pertaining to military or naval service and to confidential information contained in applications for benefits will be respected.
(1) VETERANS ADMINISTRATION RECORDS AND SEPARATION DOCUMENTS. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in subs. (4) through (13) separation documents and copies thereof evidencing service in the armed forces of the United States and records and papers in the possession of the department or service office which are released to the department or service office by or from the veterans administration or which contain information provided by the veterans administration are confidential. Release of information from such documents, records or papers may be made only as provided in s. 45.04(2) and (3), Stats. The department may, however, confirm the veteran status of a person where such confirmation will assist the person in obtaining benefits.
(2) PERSONNEL RECORDS. Employee personnel records and information contained therein, the release of which would affect the morale, efficiency or discipline of members of the department will not be released.
(3) RECORDS ARE CONFIDENTIAL. Records pertaining to any application for benefits, whether pending or adjudicated, will be deemed confidential and no disclosure therefrom will be made except in the circumstances and under the conditions set forth in subs. (4) through (15), and any person making application for benefits shall hereinafter be referred to as the applicant.
(4) DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION TO AN APPLICANT OR DULY AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE. An applicant may not have access to department records concerning himself or herself pertaining to an application for benefits from the department, but information from official records may be disclosed to an applicant or his or her duly authorized representative as to matters concerning the applicant.
(5) PERSONS AUTHORIZED TO REPRESENT APPLICANTS. "Duly authorized representative" shall be defined as any person authorized in writing by the applicant to act for him or her, or his or her legally constituted representative if the applicant is incompetent or deceased. Where for proper reason no representative has been or will be appointed, his or her spouse, an adult child or if the applicant is unmarried, either of his or her parents shall be recognized as the duly authorized representative of the applicant.
(6) DISCLOSURE OF MEDICAL INFORMATION.
(a) To veterans. Information contained in medical records pertaining to applications for benefits from the department which are on file with the department or service office may be released to the veteran upon request, except information contained in the medical record which would prove injurious to his or her physical or mental health, in which case information will be released only to a duly authorized representative.
(b) To physicians and hospitals. Information contained in medical records of veterans and beneficiaries pertaining to medical history, diagnosis, findings, or treatment contained in applications for benefits from the department may be disclosed directly to physicians and hospitals upon written request and the submission of a written authorization from the veteran or beneficiary, or, in the event he or she is incompetent, from his or her duly authorized representative. This information will be released only with the consent of the patient and on the condition that it is to be treated as a privileged communication. However, the information may be released without the consent of the veteran or his or her representative when a written request for the information is received from the United States department of veterans affairs, the United States public health service, the superintendent of a state hospital, a commissioner or head of a state department of mental hygiene, or head of a state, county or city health department.
(7) DISCLOSURE OF LOAN INFORMATION. Information contained in loan files, information pertaining to action taken by the department on loan applications, or loan status information may be made available to any party having a security interest in the property securing such loans or any party under contract with either the department or the department of administration to pursue collection of delinquent department loans. Any party receiving information shall maintain the confidentiality of the information. Loan status information that is readily accessible from current department computer tapes on any loans on which balances are due and owing the department may be made available to a consumer reporting agency, as defined in (f).
(8) DISCLOSURE TO GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES AND SCHOOLS. Information contained in department or service office files pertaining to applications for benefits from the department which is required for official use by any agency of the United States government, by any agency of the state of Wisconsin, by any law enforcement or social service agency of any Wisconsin county or municipality, or by any school participating in the department's grants programs, may be furnished in response to official requests in accordance with the provision of pars. (a) to (c). Such requests must include information as to the purpose for which the information is to be used.
(a) Information relevant to a determination of the amount of benefits, if any, for which veterans and their eligible dependents may be entitled, information which is requested on their behalf or information which is requested for the purpose of assisting them in obtaining rights and benefits to which they may be entitled, may be released in response to official written or oral requests.
(b) Information which identifies individual veterans or their dependents, and which is requested for purposes other than those set forth in par. (a), may be released only upon receipt of an official written request. Within 5 working days after response to such a written request, the department or service office will make a reasonable effort to contact the individual concerning whom the request has been made and notify the individual of the request for information and provide the individual with a statement of the action taken on such request.
(c) The department may routinely furnish information to other agencies which does not identify individual veterans or dependents.
(9) DISCLOSURE TO STATE LEGISLATORS. Individual members of the senate and assembly may be furnished such information contained in department or service office files which pertains to applications for benefits from the department as may be requested, orally or in writing, on behalf of the veterans or their dependents or for the purpose of assisting them to obtain the rights and benefits to which they may be entitled. Committees of the senate and assembly may be furnished such information contained in department or service office files which pertains to applications for benefits from the department as may be requested for official use.
(10) DISCLOSURE TO COUNTY VETERANS SERVICE OFFICERS. A county veterans service officer may be permitted to inspect records pertaining to any application for benefits in which such office may be involved or may be furnished information or exhibits from such an application or the payment status or the payment history pertinent to department loans upon the condition that only such information contained therein or furnished therefrom as may be properly disclosed will be disclosed to the applicant only or, if the applicant is incompetent, the applicant's legally constituted representative. The department shall inform a county veterans service officer whose office is involved in an application for benefits of information necessary to complete such application and of action taken by the department thereon.
(11) DISCLOSURE TO AUDITORS. Department records and files shall be made available for inspection by, and information contained in department files shall be made available to, the legislative audit bureau or the legislative fiscal bureau in accordance with ss. 13.94(1) to (4) and 13.95(1) and (2), Stats., or to independent auditors only for statistical or audit reporting purposes upon the condition that information reported by such auditors or bureaus will not identify any specific individual by name or be reported in such manner as to clearly identify a specific individual.
(12) APPLICATION STATUS INFORMATION. Information on the status of an application for a department benefit, or for the establishment of eligibility for a department benefit, may be released to a party having an interest in the veteran or dependent obtaining the benefit applied for or establishing eligibility to apply for a specific department benefit, or to a person who is calling on behalf of an applicant for a department benefit.
(13) RELEASE OF INFORMATION TO AUTHORIZED LENDERS. All information and exhibits in the possession of the department pertaining to primary mortgage loan applications or primary mortgage loans may be released to authorized lenders servicing, closing or processing the applications or loans involved.
(15) JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS. When records pertaining to any application for benefits are requested for use in any judicial proceedings, they will be released only upon service of a proper subpoena and upon the condition that they will be returned upon conclusion of such proceedings.
(16) ADDRESSES OF APPLICANTS. Addresses of applicants for benefits from the department which are contained in department or service office records will not be furnished, except as provided in subs. (5) through (15). When an address is requested by a person to whom it may not be furnished, the person making the written request will be informed that correspondence enclosed in an unsealed envelope showing no return address, with the name of the addressee thereon and bearing sufficient postage to cover mailing costs, will be forwarded by the department or service office to such addressee's last known address. At the time the correspondence is forwarded, the return address of only the department or service office will be placed on the envelope. If such forwarded mail is returned to the department or service office as not deliverable, the original sender will be notified thereof, but the envelope will be retained by the department or service office. In no case will letters be forwarded for the purposes of debt collection, canvassing, or harassment. This section shall not apply to the furnishing of addresses by service officers to the department or vice versa.(Cr. Register, March, 1965, No. 111, eff. 4-1-65; am. intro. par., r. and recr. (1), am. (4), (6), (7), (8), (9), (12), r. (13), Register, October, 1967, No. 142, eff. 11-1-67; am. (7), Register, June, 1970, No. 174, eff. 7-1-70; am. (7) and (10), Register, November, 1971, No. 191, eff. 12-1-71; am. (1), (3), (6) (b), (9) and (10), r. and recr. (8), renum. (11) and (12) to be (15) and (16), cr. (11), (12) and (13), am. (16), Register, November, 1980, No. 299, eff. 12-1-80; am. (7), Register, September, 1990, No. 417, eff. 10-1-90; am. (4), (5), (6) (b), (13), Register, August, 1993, No. 452, eff. 9-1-93; correction in (intro.) and (6) (a) made under s. 13.93(2m) (b) 5, Stats., Register, August, 1993, No. 452; am. (7), Register, May, 1999, No. 521, eff. 6-1-99; correction in (1) made under s. 13.93(2m) (b) 7, Stats., Register April 2003 No. 568.)