When appealing your denied claim via the Supplemental Claim lane, you must submit additional evidence in support of your claim. For many Veterans, injuries or other conditions that occurred in service may not end up in their service treatment record, and the VA uses this as grounds for denial. Often, it boils down to servicemembers working through the pain to continue the mission.
While this is an admirable quality while on active duty, showing no weakness and not letting down the team can impact a Veteran’s claim when they file for VA compensation.
To receive VA disability for any injury, you must first establish service connection. Service connection for a condition requires three elements:
Occasionally, a VA Compensation and Pension exam will cover all three of these, but often, these exams will only establish a current diagnosis.
The Veteran has the option of finding a non-VA doctor, and spending money out of pocket to get an independent medical opinion that fulfill all three requirements. A personal statement or buddy statement is a no cost option that can confirm an event in service and help to establish a nexus.
If a Veteran has a current diagnosis for a condition from a medical doctor, but nothing in their service treatment record, a well-written statement or buddy statement can be the difference between a grant of service connection and a denial.
A well written statement tells the story with as many specifics as possible. For example, the statement below provides specific information related to a claim:
“We were conducting pre deployment training in Twentynine Palms, CA, in 2008. While conducting a casualty evacuation drill, I incurred the initial injury to my left ankle. I was carrying a Marine in a fireman’s carry and moving quickly to a waiting helicopter. I stepped on a loose rock and rolled my ankle with my full weight, plus the full weight of the other Marine, both of us in full gear.
As the only Corpsman in the platoon, I needed to continue to train. I taped up my ankle, took Motrin, and stayed in the field for another week. My ankle was swollen and purple by the time we got back to garrison. Due to the operational tempo of the buildup, I was not given the time to let my ankle heal.
I have continually struggled with instability in my ankle since 2008. This has led to frequent reinjury and limited my ability to run or walk long distances or stand for long periods of time.”
The statement does not need to be extremely long, it just needs to describe the initial injury and link it to the current diagnosis. A supporting statement from a buddy, in this example, reaching out to the Marine that was being carried, would be ideal. It helps corroborate the story and reinforces the argument.
Personal statements are an opportunity for the Veteran to tell their side of the story directly to the VA and are useful in VA claims for nearly every condition.
Berry Law is America’s Veterans Law Firm, and your fire support team to battle the VA. If you have been denied disability benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs or need assistance appealing a low rating, Berry Law can help. We have helped thousands of Veterans in their fight for disability benefits. Our team features attorneys from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and we are well equipped to help fellow Veterans in their battle for disability compensation.
Contact Berry Law today to receive a free case evaluation and take the next step in receiving all the VA disability benefits you earned.
Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.