Statement in Support of Claim for VA Benefits
What is a Statement in Support of Claim?
A Statement in Support of Claim, also known as a Lay Evidence or a Witness Statement, is a VA form that veterans, their families, friends, former service members, etc. can use to provide information to substantiate a claim for VA benefits. The Statement in Support of Claim form, also known as a “buddy statement” when completed by other service-members, is officially called VA Form 21-10210.
What is a Statement in Support of Claim Used for?
A Lay or Witness Statement, or Statement in Support of Claim, can be used for three main purposes:
- A place where veterans themselves can tell their own story, such as how a disability impacts their ability to: work, perform functions of daily living, or interact socially with friends and family. Here, veterans may also provide a first-hand account of the incident in-service that caused their disabling condition.
- Supporting statements from friends, family, coworkers, or anyone who witnesses the physical or social limitations a veteran’s disability presents.
- Statements from former servicemembers who served with and may have witnessed the events that caused a veteran’s disabling condition.
A Statement in Support of a Claim can be submitted to support many types of claims, such as claims for service connection, increased ratings, Individual Unemployability, and more.
For example, a veteran submitting a Statement in Support of Claim for service connection for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can write about his or her stressor, meaning the event that caused the veteran to develop PTSD, as well as the limitations his or her PTSD present in daily life, such as an inability to go to the grocery store during the daytime due to large crowds. This form can help a veteran’s claim substantially, especially if the incident in service was not officially documented in military records. In this instance, a buddy statement, filled out on a separate VA Form 21-4138, from a fellow service member who witnessed the stressor can also be quite beneficial to the veteran’s claim.
Here’s another example. If a veteran were seeking an increased rating for diabetes caused by exposure to Agent Orange, he or she could elaborate in the Statement in Support of a Claim that they now require three more insulin shots daily than when they were initially rated, which poses an additional burden on the veteran’s eating habits and daily life.
How to Complete a Statement in Support of Claim
At the top of this form, you will be asked to fill in basic identification information such as your name, social security number, date of birth, and so on. Be sure all of the information you provide is up-to-date and VA is aware of any changes to your address. You may hand write or type the information you provide on this form.
If the claimant is not the veteran, Section II is where the claimant will provide their basic identification information. An example of this would be if the claimant is the veteran’s surviving spouse. Be sure to include both the veteran and those filling out the form’s personal information.
In the next section entitled “Section III: Statement,” provide a well thought out statement that supports the claim for VA benefits. Be as detailed as possible in your explanation, and do not exaggerate or downplay the symptoms or limitations when completing the form. It is important to be honest about how your disabilities impact your life.
Those filling out buddy statements on behalf of a veteran should also apply the same principles to writing their statements, such as listing specific instances when they witnessed the negative impacts of the veteran’s condition.
Supporting documents may be attached to the Lay/Witness Statement. If attaching additional papers to the form, the veteran will want to make sure that the statement section of the form acknowledges that there is an addendum attached. Finally, certify the document by signing and dating the form.
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