Lay evidence, whether submitted with an initial claim as part of the appeals process, can play a vital role in establishing a service connection for your disability. In some cases, lay evidence can also assist with obtaining a higher disability rating or approval for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits.
About Lay Evidence
The term lay evidence simply refers to evidence that is provided by someone who is not a recognized expert in the subject at hand. Common types of lay evidence include:
- Statements from soldiers you served with. When existing military records are incomplete or unavailable, buddy statements can help confirm the details surrounding the incident that caused your injury or illness. These letters are sometimes referred to as a Statement in Support of Claim by the VA.
- Statements from friends and family. Although your friends and family can’t give a medical diagnosis, they can confirm the symptoms that you have exhibited. This is especially helpful in cases involving mental health disorders. For example, a Veteran with PTSD might produce lay statements from a spouse or close friend confirming nightmares, flashbacks, mood swings, and avoidance of situations that might trigger symptoms.
- Statements from co-workers or supervisors. Statements from people who have seen how your condition affects your ability to earn a living are relevant if you are seeking TDIU benefits. Your coworkers or supervisors might talk about factors such as your ability to follow directions, productivity, or how your work compares to others in your position.
Submitting Lay Evidence
Your attorney can help you determine if lay evidence would be helpful for your claim. However, there is no limit to the amount of lay evidence you can submit. When in doubt, it’s best to gather as much evidence as possible.
If the VA Regional Office or Board of Veterans Appeals disregards your lay evidence, they must provide an explanation of why the evidence is not credible or how it is outweighed by other available evidence. Failure to do so can be grounds for an appeal.
Get Help With Your Appeal
The office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, helps Veterans navigate the appeal process and gather the evidence that is most likely to result in an approval. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation to discuss how an experienced Veterans benefits attorney can assist with your VA disability appeal.