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Veterans disability benefits

How to Write a Statement in Support of Claim (VA Form 21-4138)

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
Published June 28, 2024
1 min read
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If you’re a veteran applying for disability compensation benefits, you should submit a Statement in Support of Claim. This supporting statement gives you the opportunity to share information about your condition and your life pre- and post-service. 

A personal statement can be highly influential in your disability case. Learn more about a Statement in Support of Claim and how to write an effective letter with the tips below.


What is a Statement in Support of Claim (VA Form 21-4138)?

A Statement in Support of Claim is a form veterans can submit as part of the disability compensation benefits application. While not required, a Statement in Support of Claim can provide helpful information to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) beyond your service and medical records. 

A Statement in Support of Claim may include details about the event or exposure that led to your condition and how it impacts your day-to-day life post-service. 


Who should write a Statement in Support of Claim?

The veteran applying for disability compensation benefits should write the Statement in Support of Claim themselves. This first-person narrative can humanize your claim to the VA and strengthen your application. 

In some cases, a person knowledgeable about your condition, such as a family member, friend, or medical professional, can submit a Statement in Support of Claim on your behalf. It’s important the form is an accurate depiction of your own account. Ideally, you should your own Statement in Support of Claim, along with lay statements or buddy statements from others.


When should I write a Statement in Support of Claim?

You can submit a Statement in Support of Claim at any point throughout the application process, whether you’re filing an initial disability compensation claim or an appeal. The Statement in Support of Claim can help establish a service connection for your condition, or it can provide additional information to increase your disability rating. 


How to write a Statement in Support of Claim

You can download VA Form 21-4138 from va.gov to submit a formal statement to support your claim. When writing a Statement in Support of Claim, follow these steps:

  1. Begin with identification information. A Statement in Support of Claim will ask for your full name, Social Security number, birth date, contact information, and VA file number.

  2. Include your service details. Include your military branch, enlistment dates, and any deployments.

  3. Outline your disability. Include your symptoms, treatment history, and how your service-connected condition impacts your day-to-day functioning. Think about your symptoms on your worst days.

  4. Share event details. If your injury or illness was due to an incident during your military service, include your account of the incident, including where and how it happened.

  5. Sign and date the statement. Write your signature at the bottom of the statement and date it. 


4 tips for writing a Statement in Support of Claim

Consider the following tips for writing a strong Statement in Support of Claim:

  1. Be concise. A Statement in Support of Claim should be 3-5 paragraphs long. Stick to the relevant details to support your claim. 

  2. Attach supporting documents. You can include supplementary documents with your statement, including relevant medical records.

  3. Include details. Be specific about the event or exposure to add more information beyond your service and medical records. You should also be specific about how your condition impacts your day-to-day function. For example, don’t just say you are in pain, explain that your knee injury prevents you from completing tasks, like driving or grocery shopping. 

  4. Write multiple statements. If you have more than one service-connected condition, you can write separate statements for each.

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Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney

Jackie Jakab

Lead Attorney

Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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