VA Form 21-4138: A Guide to Writing a Buddy Statement or Other Supporting Statement
How to Download and Use VA Form 21-4138
If you are a veteran or a beneficiary who wants to apply for VA benefits or increase your disability rating, you may need to submit a statement in support of your claim. This is where VA Form 21-4138 comes in handy. In this article, we will explain what VA Form 21-4138 is, why you need it, how to download it, how to fill it out, how to submit it, and some tips for writing a strong statement in support of your claim.
What is VA Form 21-4138 and Why Do You Need It?
Definition and purpose of VA Form 21-4138
VA Form 21-4138 is also known as Statement in Support of Claim. It is a form that you can use to submit a statement from yourself or someone else who has firsthand knowledge of information that can help support your request for VA benefits. For example, you can use this form to submit a buddy statement, a lay statement, a medical opinion, or any other relevant evidence that can corroborate your claim.
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Benefits of using VA Form 21-4138
Using VA Form 21-4138 can have several benefits for your claim. Some of them are:
It can provide additional information that is not available in your service records or medical records.
It can explain how your service-connected condition affects your daily life and functioning.
It can show the nexus between your service and your current disability.
It can demonstrate the severity and frequency of your symptoms.
It can help establish the effective date of your claim.
How to Download VA Form 21-4138
Downloadable PDF option
You can download VA Form 21-4138 as a PDF file from the official website of the Veterans Affairs. Here is the link to the form: [Download VA Form 21-4138 (PDF)](^1^). You can print the form and fill it out by hand or type on it using a PDF reader software.
Online tool option
You can also submit your statement in support of claim online instead of filling out and sending the paper form. You can use the online tool provided by the Veterans Affairs to create and submit your statement. Here is the link to the online tool: [Go to the online tool](^1^).
How to Fill Out VA Form 21-4138
Section I: Veteran/Beneficiary's Identification Information
In this section, you need to provide your name, social security number, service number, and VA file number. This information is used by the VA to identify you and evaluate your claim.
Section II: Remarks
In this section, you need to write your statement in support of your claim. You can use as many pages as you need, but make sure to include your name and social security number on each page. You should also indicate the name of the disability or benefit that you are claiming on the top of the first page. You should also sign and date your statement at the end.
Section III: Declaration of Intent
In this section, you need to declare that you intend to file a claim for VA benefits or increase your disability rating. You should check the appropriate box and sign and date the form. This section is optional, but it can help you preserve the earliest possible effective date for your claim.
How to Submit VA Form 21-4138
You can mail your completed VA Form 21-4138 along with any other supporting documents to the VA regional office that handles your claim. You can find the address of your regional office on this website: [Find your regional office]. You should also keep a copy of your form and documents for your records.
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You can also submit your statement in support of claim online using the VA's eBenefits portal. You will need to create an account and log in to access the portal. You can upload your statement and any other supporting documents as attachments. You can also track the status of your claim online. Here is the link to the eBenefits portal: [Go to eBenefits].
Tips for Writing a Strong Statement in Support of Claim
Use detail to paint a picture
When writing your statement, you should use specific details to describe how your service-connected condition affects you. For example, instead of saying "I have back pain", you can say "I have severe back pain that prevents me from sitting, standing, or lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds. I have to take painkillers every day and use a heating pad at night. I can't play with my kids or do any household chores because of my back pain."
Keep it concise and clear
While you should use detail, you should also avoid rambling or repeating yourself. Your statement should be clear and concise, focusing on the most relevant and important information. You should also use simple and direct language, avoiding jargon or technical terms that may confuse the reader. You should also organize your statement into paragraphs, using headings and subheadings if necessary.
Make sure your statements are true and accurate
Your statement should be based on facts and evidence, not opinions or guesses. You should only write what you know or have experienced firsthand, not what you think or assume. You should also be honest and truthful, not exaggerating or minimizing your condition or symptoms. If you lie or misrepresent your situation, you may lose credibility and jeopardize your claim.
Fill in any gaps
Your statement should fill in any gaps or inconsistencies that may exist in your service records or medical records. For example, if you have a service-connected condition that was not diagnosed or treated during your service, you can explain how and when it started, how it worsened over time, and how it is related to your service. If you have a medical condition that is not well documented by your doctor, you can explain how often you experience symptoms, how severe they are, and how they affect your daily life.
Don't hesitate to use form 21-4138
Some veterans may think that using form 21-4138 is unnecessary or redundant, especially if they have already submitted other evidence for their claim. However, form 21-4138 can be a powerful tool to supplement and strengthen your claim, especially if you have a complex or difficult case. Don't be afraid to use form 21-4138 to tell your story and make your case for VA benefits.
VA Form 21-4138 is a form that you can use to submit a statement in support of your claim for VA benefits or increase your disability rating. It can help you provide additional information that can support your request and show how your service-connected condition affects you. You can download the form as a PDF file or use the online tool to create and submit your statement. You can also mail or upload your statement along with any other supporting documents to the VA regional office that handles your claim. When writing your statement, you should use detail, clarity, accuracy, completeness, and honesty to make a strong impression on the reader.
What is the difference between VA Form 21-4138 and VA Form 21-526EZ?
VA Form 21-526EZ is the application form for disability compensation benefits. It is used to initiate a new claim or reopen a previously denied claim. VA Form 21-4138 is the statement in support of claim form. It is used to submit additional information or evidence that can help support an existing claim or request for increase.
How long does it take to process a claim with VA Form 21-4138?
The processing time for a claim with VA Form 21-4138 may vary depending on the complexity of the case, the availability of evidence, and the workload of the VA regional office. According to the VA, the average processing time for a disability compensation claim as of June 2021 was 111.6 days. You can check the status of your claim online using the eBenefits portal or by calling the VA at 1-800-827-1000.
Can I use VA Form 21-4138 to appeal a decision?
No, VA Form 21-4138 is not an appeal form. If you disagree with a decision made by the VA on your claim, you have one year from the date of the decision letter to file an appeal. You can choose from three options to appeal: requesting a higher-level review, requesting a supplemental claim, or filing a notice of disagreement with the Board of Veterans' Appeals. You can learn more about the appeal process on this website: [How do I appeal a VA decision?]
Can I use VA Form 21-4138 to request a personal hearing?
Yes, you can use VA Form 21-4138 to request a personal hearing with a VA representative or a Veterans Law Judge. You should i