Competent and Credible Definition
In order for VA to consider lay evidence*, it must be deemed competent and credible. Competency refers to the knowledge of the individual completing the statement. Anyone who prepares a lay statement for a veteran must have personal knowledge of what is being discussed. Credibility speaks more to the reliability of what is being said in the statement.
If VA determines that a veteran’s lay statement is not credible, they can respond with another lay statement. For example, if VA noticed inconsistent dates mentioned across lay statements, the veteran can respond by explaining that they do not remember the exact dates and perhaps provide some context, such as the season during which the event occurred. It is important for veterans to always be honest in their lay statements. In the context of competency, veterans can submit lay statements explaining how that person has enough personal knowledge of the subject matter to make their statement.
* Lay evidence refers to written statements provided by a veteran, or those familiar with the veteran’s situation, that aim to help prove a claim for VA disability benefits. Lay evidence, also referred to as lay statements or buddy statements, can be valuable and versatile pieces of evidence to prove various types of claims.
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