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Buddy Statements in Support of a VA Claim
Buddy Statements in Support of a VA Claim
Oftentimes, Veterans do not understand how much of an impact a good buddy statement can have on their VA disability claim. In fact, Veterans who call our firm often ask us about what exactly a buddy statement is. Buddy statements, also known to the VA as a statement in support of a claim, are statements made from a spouse, friend, fellow service member, family member, or anyone else who can verify your claim’s credibility.
A trusted individual can have a statement in support of claim as a buddy statement by providing an eyewitness account of how your in service-connected disability has negatively affected your daily life. In addition, a buddy statement from a fellow service member can sometimes provide an eyewitness’s verification of the link between your disability and your active duty in the military. Without a service connection, you cannot receive VA disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This makes buddy statements, especially those submitted by fellow members of the military, extremely helpful resources when attempting to support your claim for disability benefits.
Because the VA has a duty to assist, they must take all evidence into consideration when making a decision on a VA disability claim. When determining service-connection for VA disabilities, buddy statements can go a long way in improving the chances of receiving compensation.
So, how do Veterans go about submitting a buddy statement (statement in support of the claim)? In this post, we will outline the process of submitting a buddy statement, explain who can submit one, and discuss how to write an effective buddy statement. If you are currently in the process of filing a VA disability claim or appealing a VA decision, this information can be immensely helpful to you.
Submitting a Buddy Statement
To submit a buddy statement, an individual can fill out VA Form 21-4138. This form has an entire section labeled “Remarks,” where they can include any information they feel is relevant to the claim. When submitting a buddy statement, it is important to include all contact information for the “buddy.” By filling out this form, an individual is swearing that the content on the form is entirely true. Buddy statements can also be submitted in the form of notarized documents.
You can attach multiple buddy statements to VA Form 21-4138. Multiple eyewitness accounts that legitimize your service-connected disability can be especially helpful when you are appealing a VA decision. During a VA appeal, your attorney may recommend that you ask fellow soldiers who you served with to write statements that can support your claim. These statements can have a major role in influencing the VA to change their decision regarding your claim from a denial to an approval.
Who Can Submit a Buddy Statement?
Any individual who has a record of a Veteran’s disability can submit a buddy statement. Oftentimes, these statements come from family, friends, spouses, fellow Veterans, and/or coworkers. The individual submitting the statement must understand who a Veteran was at the time of their military service and how the injury, event, or disability impacted who they currently are. Because of this, we often see buddy statements come from fellow service members.
The most effective buddy statements often come from fellow military members because these men and women served alongside a Veteran when the Veteran’s service-connected disability first arose. If a Veteran is filing a claim for a service-connected injury, for example, fellow soldiers may have witnessed the event that led to this specific injury. Buddy statements from these soldiers can help to prove to the VA that a Veteran is dealing with a service-connected disability.
While many individuals can submit buddy statements, it’s important to choose who you get statements from wisely. In the next section of this article, we’ll focus our attention on writing an effective buddy statement. The effectiveness of a buddy statement largely depends on who is making the statement and how much credibility they have based on their relationship with you.
Writing an Effective Buddy Statement
Not all buddy statements are equally effective.
When you ask someone to write a buddy statement to support your claim, it’s important to make sure that the person you are asking has the authority to write such a statement. An effective buddy statement is not something that anyone in your life would be capable of writing. The Buddy statements should be written by the people who know you best and have the most comprehensive knowledge of your service-connected disability – its causes, its symptoms, and how it affects your life.
To submit a VA buddy letter, an individual must have knowledge about the Veteran filing the claim and how their disability impacts them. For example, a Veteran cannot simply have a friend submit a statement saying the individual applying for VA compensation has post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Such a statement would be nearly impossible to substantiate without concrete medical evidence a diagnosis. In some ways, a weak buddy statement like this could decrease a Veteran’s chances of getting the disability compensation that they deserve, as it reflects poorly on the Veteran’s claim.
Instead of writing a buddy statement without any authority or backing, a trusted friend could submit a statement which highlights the changes that have occurred in a Veteran’s life since their disability first developed. This type of statement could note, for example, that prior to the disability, an individual was outgoing and social. Upon returning from service, however, they were noticeably sad, showed signs of depression, and stayed in most of the time.
This type of statement helps to show that a service-connected event changed who the Veteran was and that a disability was formed. Laying out another person’s view of the individual applying for VA disability can help the VA to get a better picture of how the disability affected the Veteran.
By understanding that a buddy statement acts as evidence as to why a claim should be considered, you can understand why specific details should be included. It is important to remember that, although it is helpful to include a lot of information, the employees at the VA read many buddy statements each day, and the details can often get disregarded as a result. The best practice is to write a clear, concise statement in support of the claim.
What If My VA Disability Claim Is Denied?
If the VA denies your initial claim for veterans benefits, you don’t have to give up on getting the VA disability compensation that you deserve. Sometimes your VA disability claim is denied at first and then later approved after a Veteran appeals the VA’s decision.
As a disabled Veteran, you reserve the right to appeal any VA decision. This means you can dispute the VA’s assessment of your claim even in the event of an approval. If the VA approves your claim but gives you a disability rating that you view as too low, you can make an appeal to potentially get your rating raised.
During the VA appeals process, you can present additional evidence in support of your claim, including buddy statements. Buddy statements can play an important role in the appeals process, but they are not the only form of evidence that you can submit when making an appeal.
In addition to buddy statements, the results of an independent medical examination (IME) can also be helpful to present during a VA appeal. An independent medical examination is administered by a private doctor who is not affiliated with the VA. This medical professional will carefully assess your condition and review your military medical records. If they come to a different conclusion than the VA regarding the severity of your disability, you may be able to get a higher va rating and get access to better medical treatment.
During the VA appeals process, it can be overwhelming if you are fighting a ruling on your own. Instead of going through the appeals process alone, recruit one of Berry Law’s experienced attorneys to help you. One of our dedicated attorneys can help you get the compensation that you deserve through a strong appeal.
VA Disability Attorneys
Berry Law’s VA accredited disability attorneys are committed to helping Veterans nationwide receive due compensation. As a firm founded and managed by Veterans, we understand the difficulties fellow Veterans face when they return home. Our team of VA attorneys has significant experience in the appealing VA claims process, and they have a full understanding of how buddy statements can support a VA claim. If you or somebody you know has been denied disability benefits from the VA or has received a rating that is too low, contact Berry Law today through our website or phone number. You will get a free consultation, and once we have a better understanding of your situation, we will do whatever we can to support you.
Established in 1965 by Vietnam War Veteran and attorney John Stevens Berry Sr., Berry Law Firm is a team of Veterans dedicated to defending, safeguarding, and fighting to protect the rights of Veterans. Over the decades, thousands of Veterans from across the country and all branches of the military have trusted our firm with their cases and, more importantly, their futures.
Established in 1965 by Vietnam War veteran and attorney John Stevens Berry Sr., Berry Law Firm is a team of veterans dedicated to defending, safeguarding, and fighting to protect the rights of veterans. Over the decades, thousands of veterans from across the country and all branches of the military have trusted our firm with their cases and, more importantly, their futures.