Using Lay Statements in Veteran Disability Appeals

There are a variety of forms of evidence that can be used to establish service connection and the appropriate rating for a particular disability. This evidence includes medical reports, military records, and expert opinions. A crucial category of evidence that is often overlooked in VA claims are lay statements.

Lay statements are sworn statements for people who are not experts but can report on conditions they observe. These statements can come from anyone in the veteran’s life, such as friends, family, former fellow service members, coworkers, and anyone else who has direct knowledge of evidence that can be used to prove service connection or an increase in rating.

Lay statements in veteran disability appeals can be used for a variety of purposes:

Establishing service connection:  Lay statements are often crucial in linking a disability to military service. These statements can be used to prove the occurrence of an accident. Statements are often used for PTSD claims to provide support for the occurrence of a stressor, such as trauma or being fired upon by hostile forces, that forms the basis for a PTSD claim.

Increasing ratings:  All to often, the VA will grant service connection for a disability but provide a rating percentage that is far below what the given disability should be rated. We often use lay statements to show that the veteran’s symptoms are more severe than the VA admits, and thus a higher rating is warranted. We have used lay statements on a variety of conditions, such as: showing the coronary artery disease significantly limits physical activity, PTSD causes nightmares, migraines cause multiple episodes of debilitating symptoms, sinusitis symptoms are more severe, and a variety of other conditions. Lay statements are often crucial to proving the severity of a rated conditions, as they speak to how the medical conditions affect a veteran in real life, rather than in the controlled medical exams.

What makes a good lay statement in a veterans appeal case?

There is no specific format a lay statement must take, but there are factors that make such more power. The VA provides more weight to lay statements that specify the truth of such is being sworn to under the penalty of perjury. Lay statements also are more useful when they mention specific dates or times. This is true for statements supporting service connection, i.e. mentioning the exact date of the accident. It is also helpful for statements in support of an increased rating, where dates of observed symptoms are mentioned.

The right lay statements provide the VA with a more vivid picture of the facts and greatly increase chances of success.

Rest Easy Knowing Your VA Disability Claim Has Been Pursued to the Fullest Extent Possible

Contact us for a free, no obligation case review.