How to Write a Statement to Support Your VA Claim
When filing your VA disability claim, it's often helpful to provide a statement with your application or appeal. Also known as a "Statement in Support of Claim," this letter can provide relevant evidence that substantiates the location of the event that caused your disability, when the event occurred, and details about the incident. Statements from veterans, family members, or friends are helpful to provide additional information, filling in the gaps that service or medical records may not cover. The statements can also help attest to how a veteran was before service and how they are now. These details can be crucial to the veteran's disability compensation.
Determine The Scope of The Statement
When writing a convincing statement supporting the claim, first decide what you want the statement to accomplish. Do you want to write about all the pending claims you have or write about a claim for direct service connection and concentrate on the events during your service, which resulted in your current disability? For instance, if you claim a Knee disability based on a fall during service, you will want to describe all the circumstances surrounding the fall in as much detail as you remember. It may be challenging to remember the details many years later, but you may remember sounds you heard before your fall or the feeling of the ground hitting your knee. Describe what you remember immediately before and immediately after the fall. Do you remember what you or anyone around you said? Any details like that help your statement come to life and make it more convincing to the reader.
If you're writing about a claim for an increased rating, then focus on how your disability has worsened over the years. Again, go into as much detail as you can, including dates as often as you can (the month and year are good, or even the season if you are unable to remember more accurately). It's essential to write about how your disability and it's impacting your day-to-day life and any secondary problems that it has caused. For instance, say you are writing a statement for an increased rating for your right knee condition. It would help if you explained any specific situations you remember of your right knee giving out or being swollen or too painful to bend or extend. Instead of writing, "In March 2016, my knee gave out, and I fell," a more persuasive, more convincing sentence would be, "In March 2016, I was taking my dog for a short walk down the block, and I felt my knee give way. Before I knew it, I was on the ground and lying on the sidewalk. I could not stop myself from falling when my knee gave out."
Finally, Add as Many Details as Possible
As mentioned above, adding as many details as possible can strengthen the statement and help you achieve your goal of obtaining appropriate disability benefits. The more details are present, the more the VA will understand the circumstances surrounding your VA benefits claim. Keep in mind that statements provide a way for the veteran to be directly involved in the claims process. The VA uses C&P exam opinions and medical records to formulate most of their decisions. Doctors or other medical professionals write these exams; many veterans have no idea what these records say. Such incorrect information may be included and used to determine a claim. Making a statement gives the veteran a voice, and therefore being as detailed as possible is very important.
Additionally, your statement is beneficial to mention specific symptoms that your condition may cause or contribute to. Rather than saying, "I have depression," consider talking about precisely how your condition affects you, such as: "I struggle to get out of bed in the morning." Or "I don't like going to public places or being in large crowds." Think about the statement as a way to paint a picture of your daily struggles.
Lastly, statements from friends and family, commonly called "buddy statements," are incredible tools for a well-rounded case since they provide lay evidence that can supplement medical and military records. Buddy statements made by family members, spouses, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. These are some of the most critical pieces of evidence as they corroborate a veteran's claim.
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