A VA sworn declaration is a letter or statement in support of a veteran’s claim. Sworn declarations are usually written by someone without medical expertise, such as a relative, spouse, friend, co-worker, or fellow servicemember.
How is VA Form 21-10210 different from VA Form 21-4138?
VA Form 21-10210 is meant to be the form veterans use to submit a statement in support of their claim. This form is very similar to the older VA Form 21-4138 which was also used for similar reasons. VA Form 21-10210 is used to provide information about an in-service injury or to give an update on the current severity of their service-connected conditions.
However, VA form 21-4138 is no longer in use and the VA Form 21-10210 has been updated to replace it. Family members and/or loved ones can provide testimony about the veteran’s claim, including events that happened while they were in the service, and help the VA piece together what happened when there are missing or unknown military records.
Can a Veteran write a lay statement for their own VA claim?
Veterans can submit their own VA sworn declaration form to certify that their own testimony is truthful and accurate. Think of it as answering questions under oath in a court of law because by filling this form out and signing, you are legally certifying your statement as factually correct to the best of your knowledge. This is why the phrasing “under penalty of perjury” is included. VA takes this seriously and you should too; do not fabricate a story.
Who can fill out lay statements for VA disability claims?
A layperson is someone who is not a doctor or expert on the topic. This person is usually a family member or friend of the veteran and can provide information about the veteran’s condition in simple terms. They should not focus on how great a person the veteran is; that’s not what this form is for.
A layperson should be able to convey the development and progress of the veteran’s condition, as well as how it has impacted the veteran’s social and occupational functioning, in a clear and straightforward manner. In other words, a lay person can help corroborate a more precise “Before” and “After” timeline of this injury and share additional details or issues that maybe the veteran isn’t aware of being present.
How To Fill Out VA Form 21-10210
Filling out a VA sworn declaration form is not too difficult. There are only three sections.
- The first section asks for the veteran’s identification information, such as name, social security number, date of birth, address, etc.
- If you are not a veteran and you’re filling out this form, you should fill out the second section. For example, a widow trying to support their DIC claim (dependency claim) after a veteran’s death is who you would likely see here.
- The third block is where the statement should be written. Perhaps you’re looking for a way to increase your rating due to an illness getting worse. In this instance, the statement must explain how your disability has gotten worse since it was incurred or since you received your previous benefits.
From there, there’s not much more to it but we should cover some basic tips on filling these forms out. We see a lot of mistakes and well-meaning statements that don’t contribute to a veteran’s successful claim.
Tips on Filling out VA Form 21-10210
- Start by writing down how and why the condition has gotten worse in a personal note. Make a list of all the times your disability affected your life in an intrusive way that maybe it otherwise wouldn’t have. These are excellent cases of how your position has worsened your daily living activities.
- It’s possible you may end up feeling like you’re repeating some of the information you wrote in your original claim but sometimes the vet or the layperson can add more helpful details that we didn’t remember the first or second time. This is providing additional evidence of what you’re claiming through someone else’s experience and/or point of view.
- If you have not already gone into detail about the incident, providing some of those details may help the VA person who reviews your claim get a better understanding of what you are trying to communicate and the realities of your medical condition now.
- Including more RELEVANT examples should bolster your claim and is unlikely to hurt your chances of approval unless the statements and the facts are contradicting themselves or they are not clear.
Remember, it’s best to be truthful when filling out this form as perjury can come with some hefty consequences. So make sure everything you write is accurate to the best of your knowledge.
Can you use Sworn Declaration Form to support VA combat disability benefits?
Occasionally, determining that a disability is directly attributable to your military service may be difficult. This might be the case because the incident or injury happened while you were deployed overseas or in a situation where medical attention was simply not available, or feasible.
Sometimes the incidents do get reported to the proper person but it didn’t get written down OR the records are lost or classified and now there is no available record of what happened. We’ve seen this occur to many vets; sworn declaration forms can help tremendously here.
VA Claim Denied?
If you have been denied service-connected disability benefits, don’t give up! The sworn declaration form 21-10210 can be a powerful tool to help support your claim. If you have an active rating decision you disagree with, we’d love to speak with you.
Our team of experts helps veterans through the appeals process every day in order to increase their chances of success. Don’t hesitate to reach out for a free case evaluation today.
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