VA Claims Information
SORTING DOCUMENTS-SOME SUGGESTIONS
Many veterans have a dilemma. WHERE DO THEY START!
- Multiple disabilities need to be addressed.
- Multiple military deployments might be involved.
- Multiple medical establishments, military & civilian are included.
- Civilian and military, before and after the military could also be included.
WHAT do you do to create an ORGANIZED mess!
Here are some suggestions. These are not the only ways to sort, but can get you started when you don't know where to begin.
I am sticking to simple writing rather than computer stuff or file cabinets and index tabs etc. Those are useful but some veterans do not have that access.
This will be a base start that anyone can then enhance according to their abilities and space.
This form of sorting allows for huge amounts of documents to be worked quickly. It is not intended for fine scrutiny of a document. It is intended to make a lot of documents easier to manage.
Start with the following supplies1. Gather empty boxes, preferably uniform such as the kind you get from an Office store. They should be sturdy and stand up to stacking weight.
2. Felt Tip Marking Pens-dark color or easy to see, not fine point.
3. Lined 3-ring paper for writing
5. Pencils or pens for writing in the notebook(s).
6. Labels to stick on boxes EVENTUALLY.
Preparing your sorting field
1. Write with a Marking Pen directly onto a box a number starting with "1." Make it BIG so you can easily see it if it is stacked with other boxes. Put it on the front and possibly one side, so you will find it however you position a box.
4. Using a sheet of paper or another notebook, be prepared to just note your boxes as you go. If you find you need more boxes for a specific group, this second notebook/lined paper will be useful for the following reasons:
- You keep track of how many boxes are containing the group and
- This allows you to stack boxes away but still know what needs to be next numbered for that group.
- You will know what boxes can be pulled at a later date when beginning a more refined sort without having to sift to multiple pages of a notebook filled with information.
Starting the sort
1. Grab any stack/box/file of documents waiting to sort.
2. Reach in and take a group, or item, and begin putting into Box 1.
3. Use that as your TITLE for the BOX. Note what it is in your notebook next to the Box Number. If you can keep it generic it might help. If you know there is a LOT of information to fill a box from one specific incident/person, then just use that specific name. It might be
4. Continue sorting using separate Boxes and their numbers for different groupings. Always note in the notebooks what you have put in that individual box.
DO NOT fine tune, just sort according to groupings however you have created them. You can fine tune and examine the documents at a later date once they have become manageable.
5. If a box overflows and you need more boxes for that specific group, then use the alphabet to continue the boxing: 1a, 1b, 1c, etc.
6. In the second notebook/paper that just lists the box numbers, use a different line for each number and then add the additional boxes beside it as you add boxes. If possible, include the title of the box group.
This allows you to do a quick look when getting ready to pull boxes for a specific reason.
Keep a space or two between the different box numbers so you have lots of room to add additional numbers as needed.
7. As you use boxes, store or stack them away from where you are working. Keep the Box number where you can see it easily when necessary.
8. If you are looking for a specific item/disability/whatever while you are sorting, keep a box handy just to take the miscellaneous you might find. Label it by an Alphabet rather than the box number. This will keep it from being lost in the stacks if it accidentally gets misplaced.
Eventually the documents in this Alphabet box will find their way back into a Boxed number to go with the other documents.
Note: This is only when there are items you wish to work and they don't take up a LOT of boxes to do. These are for those that are pulled from multiple boxes to create a whole and when done will be separated again.
8. Continue to Rough Sort until your documents are in groups you feel are manageable.
SEMI-ROUGH SORTING (lol)
Now that the boxes are in a semblance of order, you need to get them more organized.
Again you are not going to worry about doing a fine-toothed comb sort. This is just to get it easier to manage.
Starting the sort
1. Referring to your notebooks, pull the box(es) of a specific number.
2. Using other empty unnumbered boxes for just holding, begin pulling files by a sort of your choosing. Such as:- alphabetical (doctors, hospitals, whatever)
- date of visits
3. Here is where you can choose to do this or not, depending on time, desire, necessity...
When sorted as above,- Using a new sheet of paper for each individual box, list the contents in their order.
- Make a copy of the paper and then Tape it to the box for easy searching.
- File the copy with your box notebook.
4. Replace the documents in their new order, affixing the appropriate paper to each box to display its contents (if you wish).
You thus do not have to wade through ALL the boxes of that specific group to get to one. You can focus on finding that one section of the group.
5. If you know the disability that this box could affect, use a label and write the possible disability(ies) impacted in bold letters and affix to the box. Also note it on your copy for the box notebook.
This allows you to have two ways of finding information from the box...a specific item or through the disability(ies) it impacts.
One other thought...a third way to locate a box is to make ANOTHER list using the disabilities as the title. You can then list any boxes that might have information pertinent to that disability. It would be a good referral for researching as you work each disability.
Working the Boxes
Putting the boxes in workable order does not have to be done immediately. They can still be worked. The thing to remember is that you now have them accessible.
As you research a specific disability, event, problem, you can do the semi-rough sort at the same time. The real benefit is that the areas are now available no matter how little or how much you continue to refine your sort.
Using your Box Contents
You HAVE to stay focused on taking out and PUTTING BACK documents. I have some suggestions for that.
1. When pulling a document from a box, slip a blank paper in its slot to stick up. This allows you to quickly re-file the item without having to figure out where it goes.
2. Any documents pulled goes into a copying box.
3. Make a copy of any/all pieces that you will need to examine closely.
4. Place the copies in a box of their own.
5. Re-file the original document.
6. Work the copies, examining, highlighting or whatever necessary. Make extra copies for submission as needed.
See my website Steps for close examination of your documentation.
I hope this will give you an idea of what to do to start. Of course, there are other alternatives to this, but I have tried to keep it very basic.
I wish you good journey.