What is a Statement in Support of Claim?
A Statement in Support of Claim 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 21-4138.
What is a Statement in Support of Claim used for?
The 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 servicemember 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 this form is being completed by an individual other than the veteran, be sure to include the veteran’s and the person completing the form’s personal information.
In the next section entitled “Section II: Remarks,” provide a well-thought-out statement that supports the claim for VA benefits. Be as detailed as possible in your explanation. Do not exaggerate or downplay the symptoms or limitations when completing this form and be honest about how your disabilities impact your life. Those filling out buddy statements for a veteran should also apply the same principles to writing their statements, and even provide specific instances of when they saw the veteran’s condition negatively impacted their life.
Supporting documents may be attached to the Statement in Support of a Claim. Finally, certify the document by signing and dating the form.