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How to Use Lay Statements & Buddy Statements

Lay Statements & Buddy Statements: How to fill the gaps in your VA claim
  1. What is lay evidence? How can it be helpful in VA claims?
  2. What are you trying to establish with a lay statement?
  3. Can only veterans write lay statements?
  4. How do you submit a lay statement to VA?
  5. How much weight do lay statements carry in a VA claim?
  6. Are there situations where lay statements are particularly helpful?
  7. What is VA’s rule about favorable evidence?
  8. Using lay statements to counter unfavorable medical evidence
  9. Competent and Credible Lay Statements
  10. Common mistakes in lay statements
  11. Using lay statements to fill in the gaps
  12. What if VA says your lay statement not credible or not competent?
  13. Recap & concluding comments

Video Transcription.

Maura Clancy: Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to today’s Facebook Live discussion. We are here at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick in Providence, Rhode Island. My name is Maura Clancy. With me today are Jenna Zellmer and Mike Lostritto, also of Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Our topic for today is going to be about lay evidence. So we’re going to be talking about what lay evidence is, how it can be used, how it can be helpful for you VA claim. As we go along, if there are any questions from the audience, please feel free to utilize the comments feed that’s next to this video. We’ll do our best to get to as many questions as we can throughout. And if there are any resources on our blog or in prior videos that we think might be helpful to you or responsive to your questions, we’ll be sure to also post those in the comments. So be on the lookout for those, too.

We’re going to get right into our topics that we’ve got set for today. Mike, why don’t you start us off and explain to us, just generally, what lay evidence is and how it can be helpful in VA claims?

Mike Lostritto: Sure. So when we’re talking about lay evidence, we’re really just talking about written statements by either the veteran or anyone of a number of different people. These written statements can be very important in helping prove a veteran’s case. You know, we oftentimes see service connection cases where the veteran brought a lay statement that will detail the in-service event for increased rating claims or appeals. And we see the lay evidence that can be very helpful in showing the veteran’s symptoms, the severity of the symptoms, and how they progressed over time. And in the TDIU cases or unemployability cases, lay evidence can be extremely helpful when it’s shown how each of the veteran’s service-connected disabilities impacts his or her ability to work.

Maura: So it seems like statements can be pretty versatile, and they can be used across the board in all sorts of disability claims. Are there any examples of different ways that you can use lay evidence in a claim? So apart from just using it in connection with, say, like you mentioned the service connection claim or an increased rating claim, what specifically are we trying to establish when we submit a lay statement?

Mike: So a written lay statement really is used to help bolster the veteran’s case whether that’s to detail specific symptoms that may not be provided for in the treatment records or whether it’s an in-service event that really– the treatment records on their face don’t adequately show or explain. Oftentimes, veterans will have a history prior to service as well. So in certain service connection claims, it’s important to have a lay statement that shows what the veteran was like before service, in service, and after service to show how service actually did change the veteran.

Jenna Zellmer: Yes. I think you make a good point, Mike, that lay statements are really able to fill gaps that would, otherwise, be in the record. So if you’re just looking at your treatment notes, you might have a gap in treatment. Or you might have not reported something for a specific reason to your treatment provider. And so those lay statements are really able to provide for their contacts to the VA, whoever is reading your record, to kind of understand and how to put your treatment notes in order and kind of understand your whole history of your disability.

Maura: So in some cases, lay evidence can be used to tell a story that needs to be communicated to a VA. Maybe you want to talk about an in-service incident. You want to talk about the severity of your symptoms, things like that. But then also, it sounds like lay statements can be used strategically to respond to things that VA says that could be an error – I think we’ll get into that a little more later – or to explain why there might be gaps in treatment or decades between doctor’s visits and sort of things like that.

Mike: Yes. Absolutely.

Maura: So is it only veterans or claimants that can write lay statements?

Mike: It’s really not. Obviously, veterans can do so. I would say it’s anyone with personal knowledge about the events that are being discussed in the written statement will be able to provide a statement based on those events. So we oftentimes see, in addition to veterans, veterans’ spouses, different family members, something called buddy statements which are fellow service members who may be able to provide a statement that discusses what happened during service. Another thing that I think is important that we see, specifically in our unemployability cases, we look to get a statement from the veteran’s employer or maybe a former employer.

Jenna: Coworkers.

Mike: Coworkers, another great example, to really show how the veteran’s service-connected disabilities impacted and limited his or her ability to work in that job.

Maura: So when you say that lay statements can be provided by anybody with personal knowledge, do you recommend that the person writing the statement indicate how they have that personal knowledge of what it is they’re talking about?

Jenna: Yes. So we generally would recommend anyone who’s writing the lay statement to explain what they have personally observed or witnessed that just kind of explains to VA why this person can be trusted and why their account of whatever the veteran has experienced or demonstrated is credible.

Maura: Okay.

Mike: And so that really means if you’re, say, a friend of the veteran, explain how you’re a friend of the veteran. How long you’ve known the veteran. If you’re a spouse of the veteran, same thing, go into how long you’ve known the veteran. Maybe when you got married. Employers, same type of things. So it’s really important I think to lay that foundation in the statement so that VA will take the statement, and find that it’s a reliable piece of information to use in support of the case.

Jenna: Yes.

Maura: Those are really good points, I think, because sometimes, if a veteran has submitted so many statements and then a third party decides to write statements on the veteran’s behalf, the evidence can be just be so much more compelling when it comes from someone who, say, observes the veteran every single day. Maybe they can see the impact of their symptoms and things like that.

Mike: Absolutely.

Jenna: And that third person also doesn’t have an interest in the veteran getting benefits. So at that point, it’s really that that third person has no other interest besides telling the truth. And so I think that can go a long way when sometimes VA thinks– maybe it could become a little skeptical about why the veteran is submitting too much evidence on his behalf.

Maura: I think that’s a great point, too, because we definitely have seen cases – I know I have. I’m sure you both have when VA says, “I don’t believe what the veteran is saying, because they’re motivated by a–

Jenna: Interests.

Maura: — positive outcome and an interest in their benefits claim. So-

Mike: Absolutely. And sometimes having that third person provide a statement can be the difference in a lot of these cases.

Jenna: Yes. Corroboration.

Maura: How should a veteran go about or a third party go about submitting statements in support of a claim?

Jenna: So there’s no– VA has several different forms that are tailored to different kinds of lay-statement evidence. But strictly speaking, you can submit any sort of handwritten, typed form or a statement on any sort of piece of paper. The general joke among lawyers is that you can write it on a napkin and that can be submitted to VA. So a lot of times, VA requires specific forms to file a Notice of Disagreement, to file a VA Form 9 for procedural requirements for an appeal. But for lay statements, you can use the forms– they have a form for statement in support of the claim. They have a specific form to talk about your history of unemployability. They have specific forms for PTSD stressors. But if you can’t find those forms or if you have more to say than in that space that’s on that form, you can submit it in any way.

Mike: And I think it’s good practice for the veteran to obviously sign the statement at the end. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a notarized statement. So it really can be submitted in various forms as Jenna was saying.

Maura: I think signature and dates are always a good idea.

Jenna: Yes.

Mike: I think dates are a very good idea. I think oftentimes, we’ll see some cases with old statements in the file that aren’t updated. So it just makes it more difficult to show when the symptoms were being reported. And so signature and date is critical.

Maura: And so definitely important to be mindful of those instances when VA does require a specialized form. But for purposes of just your general lay statement, there is no specific form that’s required. So that’s good to know.

Once again, everyone, we’re here at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick in Providence, Rhode Island today. We’re talking about lay evidence. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them here in the comments feed. And we will also return the favor by getting any information out that we think is relevant to this discussion today.

I want to talk about how much weight a lay statement holds in a case, because it sounds so far like all a veteran would have to do is just submit a statement that says, “I’m entitled to what I’m seeking.” But we know that it’s not always the case that a lay statement is going to carry the day or is going to be able to satisfy all the elements of the claim that’s being sought. So Mike, can you tell us, generally speaking, what kind of weight should be given to lay statements?

Mike: So generally speaking, first I would say, it kind of depends in situations we’re talking about. So for instance, in many cases, a veteran’s not going to be able to provide a diagnosis simply just by– a medical diagnosis just simply by submitting a written statement. That’s not always the case. But in most cases, a veteran’s going to need some type of medical evidence. I think it’s important to know though that in reporting symptoms, VA can’t give the statement less weight just because there is not supporting medical evidence in the file that corroborates what the veteran’s saying in the written statement. So in those circumstances, a lay statement can be held to have a lot of weight and a lot of probative value when VA decides the claim.

Maura: So I think this goes back to the personal knowledge point that we were making before. If the person who is giving the statement has personal knowledge to say, “I can tell you about this in-service assault, because I was a witness to it.” Or, “I can tell you about the veteran’s symptoms, because I’m their spouse, and I see them in pain every day,” or whatever the case may be. As long as there’s that personal knowledge behind it, it seems like VA has to at least consider it and not discount it just because it’s coming from a lay person.

Jenna: Right. Like Mike said, if your case hinges, for example, on proving an access between your current disability and your service, that’s something that your lay statement really probably isn’t going to be– most of the time isn’t going to be super helpful, because that’s going to require a medical opinion.

Maura: Mm-hmm. Just why we call them lay statements and not–

Jenna: The expert’s–

Maura: — medical evidence– yes–

Jenna: Yes.

Maura: — or expert evidence. Can there be an instance, Mike, when a lay statement might carry more weight than other evidence or where it’s particularly useful to submit a lay statement? Can you think of any examples?

Mike: Sure. So some of the cases that we see here that I think lay statements are particularly helpful on are, for instance, SMC Aid and Attendance cases. In those cases, we’d like to see a statement from the veteran but also a supporting statement from the veteran’s spouse or maybe a family member that really details how the veteran needs help with daily activities and a statement from the spouse or someone else who shows how they provide those activities or help with those activities. All the types of cases that we see– anytime we’re trying to detail an in-service stressors, so maybe it’s a PTSD case, a veteran statement can be particularly helpful in those cases, because it allows the veteran to really tell their story in a way that maybe the medical records don’t. And it can detail along with maybe a buddy statement what exactly happened and how it happened caused or contributed to the veteran’s symptoms– PTSD symptoms today.

Maura: Okay. Those are good examples. And just in general, Jenna, there’s a rule at VA about how adjudicators have to address favorable evidence. That would include any favorable lay statements that are submitted by a veteran or on the veteran’s behalf. Can you tell us about what that rule is generally?

Jenna: Yes. So VA has a duty to address any favorable, relevant evidence in a veteran’s case. And so if there’s evidence out there that supports the veteran’s claim or his entitlement to a specific rating or a specific entitlement to service connection, for example, the Board can’t just ignore it. So they have to look at that evidence and assess whether or not they find that competent and credible. And so I know we’re going to talk about competency and credibility a little bit later. But those are kind of some of the threshold to find in. So assuming that the veteran is competent and credible to testify, to explain what he or she is experiencing or did experience in the service, the Board is going to have to explain why or why not it finds it entitled to weight. So if the Board is going to discount a lay statement in favor of medical opinion or if there’s conflicting statements– the record, the Board has to explain why.

Maura: Okay. That’s hopeful too. So we know how important lay statements can be, but sometimes if they are overlooked by the people that are making the decisions at VA, it can be frustrating. But there is a duty anytime, as Jenna said, a piece of evidence including lay statements contains favorable material evidence that needs to be considered.

Jenna: Right. And I think veterans’ records are thousands of pages long. And so it’s common I think that– I think it’s fair to say that we commonly see that either the Board or other Regional Office has just overlooked a piece of evidence. And so the more clear that you can make your lay statement, the more easy to read and easy to understand, the better chances I think you have of VA seeing the statement and actually considering it. And so I think a lot of times, in the very older files we see a lot of handwritten statements that are kind of hard to read. I think that’s probably just going to encourage VA to overlook it. But we have a lot of success at Court when the Board ignores favorable evidence. So as long as it’s in the record, the Board is going to have to look at it. And if they don’t, we do have recourse at court.

Mike: And so when you receive maybe a rating decision or statement of the case, I think of one of the things you would want to do is take a look and see whether the VA actually considered maybe a lay statement that you submitted in the past. And if they haven’t, consider stating that in your appeal if you file an appeal. Just because– or I should say VA can’t automatically discount a lay statement just based on the fact that it’s a lay statement itself. It really has to consider it nonetheless.

Maura: And sometimes, I mean I know I’ve had some instances where I might recommend that someone submit a statement again that’s already been submitted. And the first reaction is, “Why should I have to submit it again?”, but as we know, these claims can be on appeal for years and years at a time. So whether things are getting overlooked or things are getting lost, sometimes a lay statement is a very important piece of evidence. And it doesn’t really hurt to submit a duplicate. As we said before, keep things signed, and keep things dated. And if it really looks, as Mike was talking about, as though VA is not looking at your lay statement when they make decisions, it can’t hurt to submit it again.

Mike: Absolutely.

Maura: Because if it’s favorable, they have to consider it.

Jenna: Yes. And draw VA’s attention to it, you know?

Maura: Exactly. What happens if, say, there’s medical evidence in your file, but it contradicts some lay statements that you have made or it contradicts maybe what you know to be the case. So, say, those in medical examination that you don’t think is an accurate representation of your symptoms or your disability, can a lay statement help to fix that situation? And if so how would you approach that?

Jenna: Yes. So I think the first step is to always make sure that you’re receiving copies of the VA exams after you attend an examination. VA needs to send you a copy of the examiner’s final report after you attend an exam. And make sure you go through that and really look at it carefully, because it’s possible the examiner wrote something down wrong. It’s possible that he or she misheard what you said. And once it’s in the examination report, the Board is going to consider that as a fact. And so if you look at that examination report and something doesn’t seem right or something is just plain wrong, that’s the opportunity that you have to submit a lay statement, and explain all the reasons why you think the examiner made some sort of mistake or based his or her opinion on an incorrect fact. I think the sooner that you do that, the better. But even if it’s a little bit later down the road and that comes to your attention, you can always submit a lay statement, and correct whatever was wrong. You just really need to be detailed about what was wrong. You can’t– I think that it goes back to Mike’s earlier point. There are some things that veterans or lay– anyone who submitted a lay evidence is not going to be able to dispute if it’s a medical opinion, and you’re not a doctor. You can’t just say the doctor is wrong. VA is not really going to take that into account. But if you say the doctor made his opinion based on these three facts and all these three facts were wrong, that’s when you can use your lay statements to kind of counter that negative medical exam.

Mike: And in situations where maybe you haven’t had an exam yet, a lay statement can be used to trigger VA’s duty to assist

Maura: That’s good point.

Mike: — to actually get you an exam in the first place. So perhaps the VA’s denying your claim. They refuse to give you an exam to actually examine your disability. A lay statement can show the severity of your condition and really raise the issue, so VA has to then schedule for an exam to be evaluated for the condition.

Jenna: And then the examiner’s supposed to take that lay statement into account. And so the examiner needs to be familiar with the records. So any lay statements that you have in the record before you got an exam, those are all also really helpful.

Maura: And a lay statement can also be helpful in asking for a new exam. So maybe you have submitted a statement that details some issues with an old exam, and you’ve pointed out the reasons why it’s not so helpful you think in having your claim adjudicated. But at the same time, you can also use a lay statement to say, “That exam is very old. And my disability has gotten worse since then. And so it no longer reflects the severity of my condition.”

Jenna: Right.

Maura: That can be an important tool also, because if VA doesn’t get that exam, then the question is– and the argument to make is that they’re relying on evidence that’s not–

Jenna: Accurate.

Maura: — probative, accurate, yes, helpful as to what’s going on.

Mike: Absolutely.

Jenna: Yes.

Maura: Okay. Good. So pretty much, lay statements can’t provide medical expertise unless the person writing the statement has medical expertise. But that’s, generally speaking, not the case. But a good thing, when it comes to combating maybe some inaccurate medical facts in your record is that a lay statement can definitely be used to correct some issues that you see in your exam. So if you go to an exam, get a copy of the exam. As Jenna said before, review it carefully if you find that there are things in there that are incorrect. For instance, maybe the examiner with respect to an orthopedic disability says, “This person does not have any flare ups of their pain.” If that’s wrong, a lay statement can be used to say, “That’s inaccurate.” And this is why to give the detail that the examiner left out. And then that will need to be considered down the line.

Mike: Yes. Absolutely. I think those are great tips.

Maura: We’re going to talk about the difference between credibility and competency and also some issues that we see pretty commonly in terms of when VA rejects lay statements on the basis that they are either not competent, not credible, or sometimes both. So Mike, what’s the difference between the two terms? Competency and credibility mean different things. Can you explain the distinction to us?

Mike: Sure. In terms of how effective a lay statement is going to be, I think you really need to think of two things basically. You need to think of whether the statement’s going to be deemed competent and whether the veteran’s statement’s going to be credible as you said. Competency really deals with the knowledge of the person doing the statement. So as we said previously, anybody who prepares a statement has to have personal knowledge of what’s being discussed about. If it’s– if what’s being discussed about is a medical issue, there is going to be some special expertise that’s needed for the person to be deemed competent to actually provide that opinion or would provide that statement. Credibility is something separate. So credibility– a veteran can be deemed competent to opine on a particular topic. But they may not be credible in what they’re actually saying. I think credibility goes to the reliability of what’s being said. A veteran can be potentially reliable in terms of there’s nothing inconsistent from the veteran’s past that would show that what they’re saying now isn’t to be believed, but they may not be competent. Because maybe they’re not a medical doctor. So they’re really two separate things. I think you need to think of them in those two separate ways. But again, competency really goes to the level of knowledge of the person drafting the statement. And competency– or, I’m sorry, credibility goes to the reliability. So you can see they’re kind of a little confusing and you can get them mixed up. But if they are two separate things that you need to make sure you’re dealing with separately.

Jenna: The main takeaway is you need to have both in order to have the Board consider your statement.

Mike: Absolutely

Maura: So competency deals with do you have the knowledge, personal knowledge, to make the statement? And credibility deals with is this worthy of belief? Can we trust the veracity of this statement?

Mike: Absolutely.

Jenna: Yes.

Maura: Okay. And so what are some common mistakes in lay statements that might prompt VA to say, “This statement is not credible.” In other words, “It’s not reliable. We don’t believe it.”

Jenna: Right. So I think it’s a fine line just because a lot of times veterans are detailing lay statements especially in-service connection cases. In their lay statements, they’re detailing events that happened a long time ago, right? And so a lot of times what the Board or what VA will say is, “You have given us three lay statements. And in all three lay statements you’ve given us a different date that this particular event happened on.” Or, “You’ve given us different details every time.” And so, I think it’s hard for veterans, because you’re trying to give as much information to VA as possible. But you always kind of want to remember to not exaggerate, not downplay. Kind of just say whatever you remember. And it doesn’t have to be totally perfect. You can say, “Some of the details are a little fussy. This is what I remember.” Kind of give general time frames. “It happened sometime in the spring. It happened sometime between 1970 and 1971.” Sort of those types of things because all-or-nothing statements are really where VA kind of tags you. So VA will say, “Well, you said this in one statement. But then a year later you said this. And so, you’re statements are inconsistent. So we’re not going to find you credible.” I think that’s kind of the thing that we see a lot of. What else?

Mike: Yes. I would say it’s really important to not underplay your symptoms. I think there’s a tendency sometimes for veterans to not really lay out what is actually affecting them for whatever reason. But your lay statement is the time to say truthfully what’s really affecting you. And it can really be the difference in winning or losing a case or your claim. If, for whatever reason the records– the medical records, your treatment records, don’t accurately reflect what your current symptomatology is, explain that in your statement. I think it’s just important to obviously be truthful but to not downplay for whatever reason what you’re experiencing.

Jenna: Right. And I think a lot of times when veterans are seeking treatment, that’s when they try to put on a brave face and tell their treating provider that they’re actually better than they are. And then if you have that treatment note compared to your lay statement where you’re actually being honest about everything that’s affecting you, the Board is going to look at those two things. And they’re going to say that the treating provider was probably the more accurate one, and they’re going to find you not credible. And so, if you’re someone who has a hard time kind of discussing your symptoms and how your disability affects you and you know that the treatment notes aren’t probably going to portray an accurate depiction of your disability, that’s something you can explain upfront in your lay statement. The same way as if you were in service and on your separation examination or on your yearly physical, you denied a lot of symptoms that you actually had but you just wanted to get through the exam and get back to work, you can explain that in a lay statement and say, “Even though the treatment notes…” or, “Even though this exam said I wasn’t experiencing this, I really was. And here is why I didn’t explain it at that time.”

Maura: I think this is very, very useful, because this seems to cover a lot of different, small nuanced issues that we see. So one thing is if there are two statements that conflict– so one statement might say the incident happened in 1970, and then the next statement might say the incident happened in 1971 and so VA says, “You’re not credible, because those two things conflict.” You can use another lay statement to say, “The reason why those two statements have different dates is because I honestly don’t remember the exact date. But I do remember it was before my military discharge.” Or, “I do remember it was in the summer because of the weather that was happening at that time.” Anything to fill the gaps– explain, give context–

Mike: And that’s where another– a buddy statement or a statement from another third-party person can really come in and help you out, because they can shed some light on things that maybe you’re either confused on or again, as Jenna was saying, just kind of fill the gaps a little bit. Provide that third-person perspective to help your claim.

Maura: And then there’s also the incident of VA will rely on records that don’t mention a particular symptom to say that you don’t have it even though in your lay statement you might say that you do have it. But any context as to why you weren’t reporting your symptoms to doctors. Maybe you see a psychiatric or a psychologist-type professional, and in that setting you’re not talking about your physical pain and symptoms. Those treatment notes might not talk about your pain, because you’re talking about separate issues. But if VA says, “Well, we don’t find any treatment records of pain,” you can explain why. You can say, “I’m there for other purposes. I don’t talk about that type of symptom with that clinician.” Anything that will explain to them why the evidence is what it is, and why you take issue with it. If it’s honest and if it’s enlightening in terms of why things are the way they are, I think it can be very helpful.

Jenna: Yes. I think that there is a temptation to kind of give VA exactly what they want. But if you’re just kind of reciting the rating criteria or just reciting exactly what you think VA wants to hear, that’s going to come across. And VA isn’t going to like that. And so you really, like you said, you just want to be truthful. You want to be honest and just say whatever actually happened. Whatever you actually remember and the VA is going to have to consider it.

Maura: So I think we already touched on this. But any last thoughts about if you’re faced with a negative credibility determination, or negative competency determination– best ways to go about remedying that situation?

Mike: Well, first VA is going to have to make a specific finding that you are actually not credible. So if they haven’t done that, then– and they’re just denying because it seems as though they’re doing that, I think you need to, in an appeal, make sure that you’re requiring them to provide that finding for you. If VA finds that you’re not competent to give a statement on a particular topic, I think first you need to determine whether that’s in fact the case in order to provide a statement that’s a nexus or a link to service if it’s a service connection case or you’re trying to provide a diagnosis. But if that’s not the case, and you have personal knowledge, I think it’s important for you to explain how you do have personal knowledge of what you’re writing about. And push– I would always encourage you to push back on those findings. Don’t just accept it, and throw up your hands, and say you have to move on. Absolutely push back on those findings.

Maura: Great. So to recap what we talked about a little bit today, there’s a lot of good stuff I think we mentioned. But some of the highlights are lay statements can be very helpful in corroborating incidents that have occurred. So this doesn’t include just veteran statements but also third party statements, buddy statements like Mike I think was talking about earlier. Lay statements can be very effective in talking about an event, what happened especially if you have personal knowledge of the event which is what we were mentioning earlier. Lay statements can also talk about the symptoms and the severity of symptoms that a veteran experiences due to a service-connected condition. This can be very helpful in increased rating claims as we mentioned, because usually the severity of the disability is that issue with those claims and the veteran is in the best position to know or those close to him or her, how severe the symptoms are, how they impair your daily functioning, what types of activities are limited by your symptoms and things like that. And then finally as we have all talked about, I think a really important takeaway is that lay statements can be used to respond to unfavorable evidence or unfavorable decisions. So, we talked about gap filling. How to explain why there might not be treatment records for a particular condition. You can use them to respond to VA examinations which I think can be very helpful. Oftentimes, there aren’t a lot of VA examinations that are given in a claim. So you only have a few opportunities to have someone look at your symptoms and so you can put in a statement that says, “If that went wrong…” for whatever reason.

Mike: Yes. And I think it’s important to remember, too, that in your statements, you don’t have to just report on your current symptomatology or the current level of severity. Say your claims have been pending for many years, you can kind of describe how your symptoms have affected you dating back a number of years. So VA– a lot of times we see cases where some lay statement describing the veteran’s current level of symptoms and severity– maybe VA grants the case or the claim but only from the date maybe that we submitted the statement. So I think if your statement includes a description of how your symptoms have progressed over time and looks back at kind of the progression of the disease or the injury, you’ll have a stronger case or a stronger argument to make that the level of severity has been the same for the entire period on appeal. So I think that’s important to remember as well.

Maura: And that goes to Jenna’s points from earlier. Be honest. Be as specific as you can. And fill in the gaps wherever you think that it’s helpful to do so. Do you have any questions? Okay. Excellent.

Thank you all for joining us today. Again, this is Maura Clancy, Jenna Zellmer, and Mike Lostritto from Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. We hope you have a great afternoon.