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Understanding the Different Types of Evidence Accepted by the VA


For Disability Claims: When preparing your VA disability claim, gathering comprehensive evidence is crucial to supporting your case effectively. Start by collecting your Service Treatment Records (STRs), which detail any medical treatments and conditions you experienced during your active duty. These records are essential for establishing a direct link between your military service and the disability you are claiming. Additionally, gather both VA and private medical records covering your condition's entire history, including its onset, diagnosis, treatment, and progression. This medical evidence helps demonstrate the severity and continuity of your disability over time.

Alongside medical records, personal statements and lay evidence from yourself, family members, or fellow service members can significantly strengthen your claim. These statements provide first-hand accounts of how your disability impacts your daily life and can corroborate your medical records. Furthermore, obtaining a nexus letter from a qualified medical professional can be pivotal. This letter should clearly explain how your current disability is related to your military service, addressing specific criteria that the VA considers in their evaluations. By assembling a thorough and well-documented body of evidence, you can enhance the likelihood of a favorable outcome for your VA disability claim.

We strongly encourage you to send any information or evidence within 30 days of the application process. However, you have up to one year to submit the information and evidence necessary to support your claim. If the VA decides your claim before one year, you will still have the remainder of the one-year period to submit additional information or evidence necessary to support your claim. If you receive a letter from the VA requesting additional information using VA Form 21-4142(a), you can authorize the release of your

private medical records from outside the VA medical network, if you believe the information will help support your claim. Talk to the Advocate before releasing any records to the VA When it comes to filing a disability claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), having a thorough understanding of the types of evidence they accept is crucial. While the VA does have a duty to assist veterans in gathering their records, it's important not to rely solely on them to collect the necessary documentation on your behalf. Taking an active role in compiling the right evidence can greatly enhance your chances of a successful outcome. Let's explore the different types of evidence accepted by the VA for disability claims.

Military Records: Your military records hold valuable information about your service and any incidents or injuries that occurred during that time. These records include service treatment records, personnel records, deployment records, and other relevant documents. They provide crucial details to establish the link between your disability and your military service.​

Official documentation and awards received during military service are significant. They provide evidence of your duties, responsibilities, and achievements, giving context to your service. These records support your claim by showcasing your commitment and dedication to your service.

Medical Records: Medical evidence plays a central role in supporting your claim for a service-connected disability. This includes both military and civilian medical records. Submitting comprehensive medical records that outline your condition, diagnosis, treatment history, and relevant test results is essential. These records help establish the connection between your current disability and your time in service. If you have private medical records that support your claim, they can be released to the VA. 

(Current Clients Click) VA Form 21-4142 – Release of Private Medical Evidence

Lay Statements: Personal statements from yourself, family members, friends, or other individuals who have witnessed the impact of your disability can provide valuable insights. These statements should describe the onset and progression of your condition, how it affects your daily life, and any observed changes in your physical or mental health. They offer a unique perspective on your disability from those who know you best in a written statement in PDF format, (Current Clients Click) VA Form 21-10210 Lay Witness Statement

Buddy Statements: Buddy statements are written testimonies from individuals who served alongside you. These statements can provide firsthand accounts of events or circumstances that led to your disability. They offer additional support by corroborating your experiences and establishing a connection between your disability and your military service. (Current Clients Click) VA Form 21-4138 Personal Statements

Expert Opinions (Nexus): In certain cases, obtaining expert opinions can strengthen your claim. These opinions may come from medical professionals, specialists, or subject matter experts who can provide insights into the nature of your disability, its causes, and its impact on your daily life. Expert opinions offer an informed perspective that can further validate your claim.

The Disability Advocates Advice

it's crucial to understand that the absence of military records should not deter you from vigorously pursuing a claim on behalf of a veteran. The VA is mandated to assist in the procurement of necessary evidence, which includes seeking out alternative documentation when official military records are not available. This task might seem daunting, but it's important to leverage every possible source of evidence, including affidavits from peers (buddy statements), secondary medical evaluations, and any other records that can lend credence to the claim.

In taking an active role in the evidence-gathering process, you significantly bolster the likelihood of a claim's success. Endeavor to amass a thorough collection of documents, such as military and medical records, statements from the veteran and their comrades, expert medical opinions when viable, and any other pertinent evidence that supports the claim. Crafting a robust and well-documented case is instrumental in securing a positive outcome. The evidence you compile and present plays a critical role in narrating the veteran's experience and substantiating their claim for VA disability benefits. Remember, the strength of the advocacy lies not only in understanding the law but also in the ability to tell the veteran's story effectively through the evidence provided.

The VA Disability Advocates Main Office is Located in Las Vegas, NV. We Represent Veterans throughout the United States. 702-209-5722

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