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The Value of Submitting a Personal Statement in a VA Claim: A Comprehensive Guide for Veterans

The Value of Submitting a Personal Statement in a VA Claim: A Comprehensive Guide for Veterans


Submitting a personal statement along with a VA claim can significantly benefit veterans by providing a first-hand account of their conditions and aiding the understanding of medical evidence. This guide emphasizes the importance of personal statements, outlines the reasons for including them, and provides guidance on what to include.

Why Include a Personal Statement?

  • Thorough Review of Medical Records:
    • Writing a personal statement requires a comprehensive review of one’s medical records.
    • This review is beneficial for both writing the statement and preparing for the Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam.
    • Veterans gain a deeper understanding of their condition, facilitating better communication during medical exams.
  • Preparation for C&P Exam:
    • Veterans may forget crucial details during a C&P exam due to stress or examiners not asking relevant questions.
    • A personal statement allows veterans to address all relevant points in writing, providing a reference during the exam.
    • Leaving a copy with the examiner ensures they have essential information for completing the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ).
  • Supporting Medical Evidence:
    • Medical evidence is a key factor in determining service connection, and personal statements enhance the evidentiary value.
    • Veterans should make the examiner’s job easier by providing a well-documented personal statement.

What Goes into a Personal Statement?

  • Specificity:
    • Write separate statements for each medical condition to ensure clarity for examiners and prevent the loss of critical information.
  • Clarification of Claim Type:
    • Clearly state whether the statement supports a new claim or an increase in an existing rating.
    • The type of claim influences how the VA examiner and reviewer assess the case.
  • Examples and References:
    • Include specific details such as the condition’s initial diagnosis, referring to relevant pages in military records.
      • Example: “Diagnosed with GERD on April 5, 2006, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center by Dr. John Smith (see page 87).”
    • Reference events causing the condition for a stronger connection.
      • Example: “On July 5, 2010, during a field exercise, I slipped and rolled my ankle, leading to a diagnosis of a mild ankle strain.”
  • Repeat Therapy or Treatment:
    • Provide information on ongoing treatments or therapies, referencing military medical records.
      • Example: “From August 2010 to June 2014, I sought treatment for ankle issues, including pain medicine and physical therapy.”
  • Post-Separation Care:
    • Highlight post-separation or retirement care for the condition to demonstrate its chronic nature.
      • Example: “After separation, ongoing issues with the ankle led to a diagnosis of arthritis in 2016, with prescribed pain medicine and a PT plan.”
  • Impact on Daily Life:
    • Explain how the condition continues to impact daily life, addressing pain and limitations.
      • Example: “Due to my ankle, I can no longer run, and even standing causes pain, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle and weight gain.”
  • Conclusion:
    • Close the statement with a truthful certification.
      • Example: “I certify that the information contained in support of my claim is 100% true. Please contact me if more information is needed.”

Conclusion on Submitting a Personal Statement:

Submitting a personal statement can significantly strengthen a veteran’s VA claim by providing a detailed, first-hand account of their condition. The statement serves as a valuable addition to medical evidence, aiding VA examiners and reviewers in understanding the impact of the condition on the veteran’s life. Veterans are encouraged to take the time to create accurate and comprehensive personal statements, ultimately contributing to the success of their claims.

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