When you are applying for disability benefits from the VA, you will be required to submit VA Form 21-4138. Learn the VA Form 21-4138 Example here. Then, you’ll also be required to provide evidence to support your claim. This can include documents such as medical records and military service records. Still, it can also include what is known as “lay evidence.” Lay evidence is testimony from people who are not professionals in medicine or law. This blog post will shed some light on the four types of VA lay evidence and how best to use them in your disability claim.
A Personal Letter
As you submit the disability claim, the most important lay evidence you can provide is a personal letter. In this letter, you should describe your symptoms, how they affect your daily life, and why you believe your condition is service-connected. You should also include the names and contact information of any friends or family members who can attest to your symptoms. Be sure to date and sign the letter and have it notarized if possible. In fact, if you have any questions about how to fill out VA Form 21-4138, the best person to ask is a notary public.
A Statement From a Co-Worker
Your co-worker can provide a statement that can help to corroborate your story. For example, suppose you are claiming that your symptoms make it difficult for you to concentrate at work. In that case, your co-worker’s statement can help to support this claim. In their statement, your co-worker should describe how they have noticed a change in your behavior or performance at work. Not only will it be helpful if your co-worker is willing to sign and date the statement, but it will also be helpful if they are willing to provide their contact information in case the VA has any follow-up questions.
A Buddy Letter
As a non-medical source, a buddy letter can be used to corroborate your statements about your symptoms and their effect on your daily life. The buddy letter should be written by someone who knows you well, such as a friend or family member. In the letter, they should describe how your condition has affected you and how it has changed your behavior. For example, if you are claiming that your anxiety prevents you from leaving your home, your buddy should describe how they have noticed a change in your behavior since your anxiety began. If possible, have the person who writes the buddy letter include their contact information so that the VA can follow up with them if necessary.
A Spousal Letter
Besides those three, your wife or husband can provide a letter to help corroborate your story. Their personal feelings could go into the letter, such as how your condition has affected your relationship and changed your behavior. For example, if you claim that your depression prevents you from being intimate with your spouse, they can describe how this has affected your relationship. It could be even much better if they could provide the psychiatrist’s note to prove what you have said.
So that’s it. You can use these four types of VA lay evidence to support your disability claim. While a personal letter is the most important piece of evidence you can provide, all four types of evidence can be helpful in making your case. If you have questions about how to use lay evidence in your claim or need help gathering evidence, contact your lawyer immediately.