Filing for VA disability compensation can be a long and arduous journey for veterans, and may often end in denied claims and having to file for appeal.
One critical step in the claims process that veterans often underestimate the importance of is VA Form 21-120210. Statement in Support of a Claim.
This piece of vital information can provide the VA with valuable insights to a veterans situation.
They are often personal narratives that other evidence and supportive documentation alone cannot replicate, because they allow for greater understanding of the impact of a veteran’s disability on his/her life.
The importance of this information cannot be understated and is why we created an attorney-approved guide on crafting compelling statements to strengthen your VA disability claim.
Why Do Statements Matter So Much?
There are a variety of reasons why VA Statements in Support of Your Claim can be beneficial to your case.
We mentioned some at the beginning of this article, but it’s important to understand many of the reasons why.
- Fills in the Details: Service records may note an incident but lack the depth of your experience. Your statement allows you to vividly depict the event, its effects on you, and the immediate aftermath, offering a personal perspective that other documents can’t.
- Shows the Impact: Explain how your disability impacts your life beyond just medical symptoms. Discuss day-to-day life, changes in your routines, challenges in physical and mental wellbeing, how it impacts your social relationships, etc. It’s important to really emphasize to the VA how your life has been affected.
- Pre and Post-Service Comparison: Highlight the difference between your condition before and after service. Accounts from those who knew you before can help establish this type of contrast, showing how the service-related event changed your life.
- Personal Touch: Your story, told in your own words, adds a human element to your claim. Share your journey, your struggles and your resilience. Personal narratives can make your case more relatable and understandable to those reviewing it.
Attorney Tips for Crafting Your Statement
Crafting a Statement in Support of a Claim is a lot more than just filling out a form.
It’s an opportunity for a veteran to tell their story, to share the realities of how your disability impacts your day-to-day life.
It can be a critical component to your claim.
In this section, we offer a handful of helpful tips from our team, designed to help you make the best use of this powerful tool.
Be clear and concise.
Start with a clear purpose for your statement. Are you discussing one specific claim or multiple? Focus on making your statement clear and to the point.
Example: “I am submitting this statement to support my claim for service connection for a knee injury sustained during combat operations in Afghanistan in March 2015. This injury has significantly reduced my mobility and continues to affect my daily life.”
Include critical information.
Whether it’s for the purposes of service-connection or an increased rating, tailor your statement to address the claim you’re filing. Describe events, symptoms and impacts with as much detail as possible, but avoid unnecessary information.
Example: “During a patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on March 22, 2015, I was injured when our vehicle was struck by an IED. The blast resulted in severe trauma to my right knee, necessitating multiple surgeries. Despite medical interventions, I experience chronic pain and instability that impacts my ability to work and engage in physical activities with my children.”
Use specific examples.
Concrete, specific examples of how your disability impacts your life can be powerful. Mention dates, locations and any changes to your personal or professional life.
Example: “Since my knee injury in March 2015, I have faced daily challenges. For instance, on April 10, 2021, I was unable to climb the stairs at my son’s school for his award ceremony, a moment I missed and cannot get back. This is one of many instances where my injury has limited my participation in family and social events.”
Example: Testimonial from Spouse: “Since my partner returned from service with a knee injury, I’ve seen a drastic change in their ability to engage in everyday activities. Simple tasks like grocery shopping or playing with our kids in the yard are now difficult and often painful for them.”
Want to learn more about what it takes to get winning lay statements from family, friends and service-members?
Review and Revise.
Before submitting, review your statement for clarity and completeness. Consider having someone else read it to ensure it’s understandable and covers all the necessary points.
Example before review: “I got hurt in service, and it’s bad. I can’t do things like before, and it’s hard on my family.”
Example after review: “I sustained a significant injury during my service, which has profoundly impacted my quality of life. Activities I once took for granted, such as walking without pain and participating in family outings, have become challenging, deeply affecting my family’s well-being.”
Statements in Support of a Claim are an invaluable piece of the VA disability claims process.
They allow a veteran to share their experiences, detail the impacts of their disability on their life and provide a personal touch that other evidence and paperwork just won’t have.
Spend quality time ensuring you have the best statement you can give the VA before you submit your claim.
Remember, your voice matters substantially in this process, and a well-crafted statement can potentially make a significant difference.
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