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AN05 Obtaining Evidence by Telephone


Advisory from Veterans' Compensation Branch

No 5/2004

This is an advisory note only.  Veterans' Compensation Branch and Legal Services Group have agreed this policy view.  It is not a Repatriation Commission Guideline or a Departmental Instruction.   The advice is not intended to conflict with the proper application of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 or the judgements of the Courts.  It may be subject to change as a result of further interpretation by the Courts of the legislation.  Nevertheless it represents a considered view that should be taken into account by all delegates.



To provide claims assessors with guidance on obtaining evidence by telephone from claimants and their representatives.


Obtaining evidence from claimants over the phone needs to be handled in a considered manner.   Claims assessors should be mindful that some claimants may find being asked questions of a personal nature on the telephone distressing or the timing of the telephone call inconvenient. Claims assessors should also be aware that claimants may not fully understand the purpose of the telephone call.   While contacting claimants or representatives by telephone can be useful to clarify issues on a claim, generally, entire questionnaires should not be completed by telephone unless the claimant agrees to this approach and issues of access to the claimant or time critical nature of the request apply.


  • When contacting a claimant on the telephone about a claim it is important to: 
  • inform them that the information they provide may be used in assessing their claim; and
  • offer an alternative means of providing the information, such as, visiting their local VAN office or assistance from an ex-service organisation representative. 
  • All phone conversations should be recorded in a file note that is dated and signed by the claims assessor and put on the appropriate file. File notes should record the information provided during the conversation and should not comment, qualify or provide views on the information received.  An example of a file note is provided at Attachment A.
  • If the information provided during a telephone conversation could impact negatively upon the success of a claim, verification should be sought from the claimant or their representative. 
  • A copy of the file note of the conversation should be sent with a reply paid envelope to the claimant or their representative. 
  • The file note must be signed and dated by the claimant as being an accurate rendering of the information provided and sent back to the Department. 
  • If the claimant does not agree with the recorded information, he or she should clarify any points of disagreement in writing within 21 days.  A covering letter should inform the claimant that if the original file note or additional clarification is not returned within 21 days, the Department will rely on the information contained in the file note. 
  • Claims assessors are also reminded that any information supporting a claim that is provided by a representative must be signed and dated by the claimant.


  • Obtaining information from claimants or their representatives over the phone needs to be handled sensitively. 
  • All telephone conversation with claimants or representatives regarding a claim should be fully documented and placed on the appropriate file.
  • Verification should be sought if information provided during this call will impact negatively on their claim.


Carolyn Spiers

Branch Head

Veterans' Compensation

16 November 2004

Attachment A

Example of a File Note


FILE:  NSM 99999



Mr John Brown indicated that he had ceased work on his Claim for Disability Pension Form (D2582 –10/03), however, no information about his employment history (Question 26) was provided.

I contacted Mr Brown by telephone (08 8888 8888) to obtain details of his employment history.

Mr Brown stated that

  • He was employed by SafeT Security of  21 Milway St, Adelaide as a security guard between 1986 and 1990.
  • He was employed by Secure Ltd of 52 Underwood Rd, Adelaide as a security guard between 1990 and 1991.
  • He has been unemployed since June 1991 as he was retrenched from Secure Ltd and was unable to find other security work in the Adelaide region.

A copy of this file note was sent to Mr Brown on 10 September 2004 requesting that he verify that it is an accurate rendering of the information provided during the conversation and requesting that any points of disagreement be sent to the Department in writing within 21 days.

Jane Smith

Claims Assessor