New VA Forms Replacing Statement in Support of Claim: 21-4138
Emma Peterson: Welcome to another edition of CCK Live. My name is Emma Peterson, and I am joined today by Michelle DeTore and Nicholas Briggs. Today, we are going to be talking about new VA forms. VA form 214138 is getting replaced so we are going to talk all about that.
First and foremost, what is the 214138? It is a statement in support of claim form that veterans have been able to use their family members or friends to submit and provide information to corroborate information about their claims to VA. It is also known as a buddy statement and it really was sort of a catch-all form for veterans to use.
Why do not we talk a little bit more about that? Nick, tell us a bit more about the 4138.
Nicholas Briggs: The form itself kind of served as both a veteran statement form and a buddy statement form. They would use it to provide statements providing their own first-hand accounts of anything related to their claim including current severity or evidence about their in-service occurrences or injuries. Then in the same vein, friends family members, co-workers so on and so forth could use the same form to provide information that they are capable of providing regarding the veterans claim such as how the veterans’ service-connected disabilities might affect their ability to work or how it affects them on a day-to-day basis as they complete activities of daily living.
Emma: It seems like a pretty important form. Michelle, why is VA replacing this?
Michelle DeTore: I think VA is trying to make a step of having it be flashed a little bit easier in client’s files because you can imagine this is one form that is a catch-all for several things. So I think that VA wants to be able to highlight a little bit easier for their duty cater’s important information when it comes in so that there will be specific documents to highlight the fact that they are submitting lay evidence or they are submitting the fact that they are responding to something or that they need their file advanced. It is a way because VA has moved to a fully electronic system. It is a way for VA to be able to flag as soon as they get the file to the adjudicator exactly what that document is and to probably make it a little bit easier for veterans just to kind of get things moving a little bit faster on their process.
Emma: It seems like it is part of VA’s general push to expedite claims processes, get some new forms.
There is a couple new forms to know about that are going to replace that. There is VA form 2010206 which is going to be for people who need to submit an FOIA request, a Freedom of Information Act Request, or a Privacy Act Request. There is VA form 2010207 which is a priority request, so if you need to be advanced on the docket due to hardship or age something like that. There is going to be the 2010208 which is going to be for Document Evidence Submission, that is pretty self-explanatory. The 2110210 which is for a Lay/Witness Statement, if you have something to say about your disability or the Buddy statement. Then there is the 2810212 which is the Chapter 31 Request for Assistance form.
All of these forms can be found on VA’s website and we will post a link in the comments for you, but that is va.gov/findforms/.
Why do not we talk a little bit more about each of these forms? Nick, can you take us through the FOIA Privacy Act Request?
Nicholas: As the name of the form implies, the form allows a claimant to submit a Freedom of Information Act or Privacy Act Request. That is basically a request submitted to a federal agency asking for agency records on any topic. Then with regard to the Privacy Act, individuals can seek records about themselves that are maintained by the department of the Interior or other agencies such as their claims file or any other information related to information that VA has about them.
The reason that a veteran might want to submit one of these requests is first and foremost, it allows them to request a copy of their claims file. VA maintains all the evidence and other records that they received in connection with the veteran’s claim over the years and the veteran can use the Privacy Act or depending on how VA decides to treat the issue on a given day, the FOIA to request their own records. In addition to requesting a copy of their own claims file, there might be policy-related information that they are unable to obtain otherwise that could be relevant to their claim such as some of VA’s old training letters and policy letters or things like that so veterans and their representatives can take advantage of this form to request some of this additional policy-based information that they think could serve their claim if they have a reason for it.
Emma: If folks watching out there want more information about this, we do have a YouTube video about FOIA Request and Privacy Act Request, so please be sure to check that out if you need to dive deeper into what that looks like.
Okay, so Michelle takes us through the 2010207 Priority Processing Request form.
Michelle: This form is essentially when a veteran needs to request that their file be in their case be expedited. VA gives certain circumstances or criteria where veteran’s case can be expedited. The good thing about this form is it also gives the veteran or the claimant the idea of what evidence they need to submit to show that they meet one of these criteria. Some of the criteria, just to give some guidance on it, is that a veteran is experiencing extreme financial hardship, a veteran or good claimant is terminally ill, they are diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, be also lets them expedite if they are seriously ill or injured, if age is another requirement, so if a veteran at the regional office level is eighty-five or older, they can expedite it. It is actually seventy-five or older when you are before the board of veterans appeals. A former prisoner of war, Medal of Honor or Purple Heart recipient, and then also for veterans homeless. Beforehand, you could submit this request on the 4138, but it might get missed by VA and not flagged right away. This is a way to flash it for the adjudicator a little bit quicker that you are experiencing one of these nine criteria for expediting at VA.
Again, it will cause a little less delay because it actually explains to you what evidence you can submit to help show they do actually meet these criteria as well.
Emma: We have a blog post if anyone is interested on expediting their claim that you can be sure to check out on our website cck-law.com and it tells you all about how to expedite your claims if anyone is interested.
The next new form is the 2010208 the document Evidence Submission form. This is almost like a cover sheet that you need to submit along or you can submit along with any evidence that you have for VA. The form asks you to specify the name of the docket you are submitting or the evidence you are submitting such as a birth or death certificate, dependency information financial information, medical treatment, military personal records, court papers, service records, so on, and so forth. To me, this seems like form that has the most pitfalls but we can talk about that a little later in the discussion. It is sort of a dimension to cover sheet to whatever evidence you are submitting to VA. Is it necessary that remains to be seen? But we can talk about that more later in the discussion.
Nick, why do not you take us through the 2110210?
Nick: This one is probably the most familiar because it is almost a direct replacement of the 4138. This is meant to be the Lay/Witness Statement form, it gives the veterans a specific place in form to submit a formal statement in support of their claim anywhere from describing an in-service injury to providing an update as to the current severity of their service-connected conditions and just like the original 4138, this form can also be completed by friends, family members, co-workers or fellow service members. Anyone who can provide testimony regarding relevant information for the veteran’s claim including in servicing occurrences and stuff like that.
Emma: Now, if you have more than one family member or friend submitting statements, do you have to submit one of these for each of them or can you just put them all in the same form?
Nicholas: It is one of those situations where VA is creating these new forms in part to make it more readily clear in their VBMS, their internal corporate systems, what the evidence is, and where it is coming from. In that respect, it is a good idea to submit separate 10210 forms for each individual statement that you are submitting because if you only submit one, they might miss a statement from a family member or a statement from a service member and they might only really consider that first statement for the person who filled out the form itself.
Emma: Michelle, can you tell us more about the 2010212?
Michelle: Sure. This has to do with requests for chapter 31 assistance. This is when you are talking about the Veterans Readiness and Employment or a lot of people called Vocational Rehab and Assistance. This program assist veterans with service-connected disabilities and employment handicaps prepare for find and maintain employment or a job. This form is going to help a veteran if they need to maybe withdraw their application, they want to discontinue their chapter 31 program and close the case, they request a revolving fund loan, request supplies or equipment needed for their rehabilitation program, request a reimbursement, discuss an issue or concern they have regarding the rehabilitation services, or notify a VA of any circumstances of reduction or complete withdrawal from any training.
This will be a catch-all hopefully for this type of benefit that veterans are applying for and will hopefully flag it for VA that it has to do specifically with Chapter 31 assistance.
Emma: So those are the forms that are going to be replacing the statement in support of claim form.
Nick any thoughts on these new forms that you think will be helpful, more efficient? What do you think?
Nicholas: I think initially they are going to make things a bit more complicated for veterans just because they have been using the 4138 to submit their testimony and their evidence for so long, but ultimately it could be useful exercise. If it changes the way that VA uploads evidence to their internal systems at the end of the day, there is very little rhyme or reason to how something is labeled in VBMS. Oftentimes many different documents can be labeled under the single heading of third-party correspondence if you have a representative that is submitting evidence on your behalf.
If we are able to use these forms in a way that will make it easier for VA to readily identify and separate these statements so that when an adjudicator like a board of veterans appeals, veterans law judge goes into VBMS to review this evidence veterans will ultimately be better off for it.
Michelle: I am excited to see what will happen with it because I think a lot of the forms are good in a lot of ways because as you know, Nick was saying they get labeled a lot incorrectly for VA’s adjudicators and through VA’s systems. But I think that like the priority processing the proxy requests, I think that those stuff are going to be really great because it is going to instantly flag it for VA that ‘hey this is saying this so this needs to get moved right to the adjudicator’. It is just I feel like it will push some things along. I think that sometimes it is a little difficult for clients and for veterans because it is a lot of new forms, it is multiple forms, it is knowing which one you are supposed to submit with which it is being aware that they exist compared to the one form previously. You can really only get them if you have computer access.
I think that those stuff can be very limiting for a lot of veterans, especially a lot of veterans are not always in the best financial situation that might not be able to have these resources to get the forms. I think that that stuff gets a little tough for a lot of people applying for these benefits.
Emma: I agree. I think some of these forms are going to be great. The Chapter 31 form, a priority request telling you clearly what you need to do. I am concerned about the Evidence Submission form and the Buddy Statement/Lay Statement form and I am concerned will veterans be required to submit this form? If they submit it in some other format, is it going to get kicked back telling them they have to submit it on this form? VA’s sometimes a pretty form happy and does not want to accept things that aren’t on their forms. I am concerned that it is shifting the burden from VA to figure out what it is to the veteran when it really should be a veteran-friendly system. But at the same time, if this is going to expedite things and ends up being pretty easy, too, I am sure there are many veterans out there that do not mind taking this extra step if, in the long run, it is going to help them secure their claim faster and more efficient. But we will have to see what happens with all these forms once we really get into it.
As always, if you have questions or thoughts, please feel free to post them in the comments and we will get back to you just as soon as we can and for more information on VA’s new forms and other topics mentioned in this video, you can check out our blog at cck-law.com /blog. Once again, I’m Emma Peterson with Michelle DeTore and Nicholas Briggs, and thanks so much for joining us.
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