Skip to content

June 24, 2019

VA Lay Statement Examples (Updated)

Last updated on May 2, 2024

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want to learn how to implement these strategies to get the VA benefits you deserve, click here to speak with a VA claim expert for free.

In this post, I provide veterans with a real VA lay statement example.

I also explain how to use lay evidence to service connect your VA disability claim, even if you’ve already filed or been denied.

This information is especially important if your service treatment records lack sufficient medical evidence of any in-service disability or condition.

Side note: This is VERY common, veterans!


Because you often didn’t go to the doctor enough while you served on active duty, and thus, your service treatment records do not contain any evidence of a disability or condition.

I can literally read the VA’s denial letter now: “The veteran’s active duty service treatment records do not contain any medical evidence or subject complaints of the disability or condition.”

Here’s the deal, veterans: You can prove your VA disability claim and overturn previous denials of service connection using something called “lay evidence.”

Let’s take a look.

Veteran reviewing a document.


Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call with an experienced Team Member. Learn what you’ve been missing so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you’ve earned for your service.

What is Lay Evidence?

Lay evidence, such as a VA lay statement, simply means “after-the-fact evidence,” and it must be competent and credible.

“Competent lay evidence” means any evidence not requiring that the proponent have specialized education, training, or experience.

Lay evidence, like a buddy lay statement or a spousal statement, is competent and credible if it is provided by a person who has knowledge of facts or circumstances and conveys matters that can be observed and described by a layperson.

Alright, enough legal jargon.

VA Lay Statement Examples

Personal statements, buddy letters, and spousal letters can all be considered VA lay statement examples.

1. A personal statement you write on the VA Form 21-4138 documenting how you think your current non-combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is due to an in-service sexual assault and stressor event that occurred 20 years ago IS lay evidence.

2. A Buddy Letter written by someone you served with who can shed some light on how your shoulder separation occurred on active duty IS lay evidence.

3. A sleep apnea lay statement example could be a spousal letter for sleep apnea, which documents what your spouse has witnessed over the years and the approximate dates your spouse noticed your sleep apnea symptoms began in-service IS lay evidence.

4. A current co-worker’s statement in support of a claim describing the severity of your current PTSD symptoms IS lay evidence.

How to Prove VA Service Connection

According to the law, service connection may be granted for a disability resulting from disease or injury incurred in or aggravated by service.  See 38 U.S.C.A. § 1110; 38 C.F.R. § 3.303(a). 

Service connection may also be granted for any disease diagnosed after discharge when all of the evidence, including that pertinent to service, establishes that the disease was incurred in service.  See 38 C.F.R. § 3.303(d).

Service connection requires competent evidence showing: (1) the existence of a present disability; (2) in-service incurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury; and (3) a causal relationship between the present disability and the disease or injury incurred or aggravated during service. 

Click to Read Shedden v. Principi, 381 F.3d 1163, 1167 (Fed. Cir. 2004). 

Depending on the evidence and contentions of record in a particular case, lay evidence can be competent and sufficient to establish a diagnosis and medical etiology of a condition. 

Alternatively, service connection may be established under 38 C.F.R. § 3.303(b) by (a) evidence of (i) the existence of a chronic disease in service or during an applicable presumption period under 38 C.F.R. § 3.307 and (ii) present manifestations of the same chronic disease, or (b) when a chronic disease is not present during service, evidence of continuity of symptomatology.

When there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence regarding any issue material to the determination of a matter, the Secretary shall give the benefit of the doubt to the claimant. See 38 U.S.C.A. § 5107; 38 C.F.R. § 3.102.

Click to Read Gilbert v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 49, 53 (1990). 

Lay persons are competent to provide evidence regarding things they have personally observed, including symptoms that are capable of lay observation and when those symptoms occurred.  See 38 C.F.R. § 3.159(a)(2);

Layno v. Brown, 6 Vet. App. 471 (1994). 

Can I Use Lay Evidence to Win My VA Claim?

According to M21-1, lay evidence, or a VA lay statement example, is acceptable for the purpose of establishing service incurrence or aggravation in the absence of Service Treatment Records (STRs) for a combat Veteran or FPOW if the evidence:

  • Is satisfactory
  • Is consistent with the circumstances, conditions, or hardships of combat or FPOW internment, and
  • Can prevail in spite of the absence of official records showing incurrence or aggravation of the disease or injury during service.

Important:  Medical evidence of a link to a current condition is still needed to establish SC.

Awe, there’s the WHAMMY!

Veterans, this is why I founded VA Claims Insider.

Even though lay evidence can help you prove service connection, you still need competent medical evidence from a credentialed medical professional to help establish service connection.

You need to obtain a Medical Nexus Letter to help you win and service connect your VA disability claim.

*A non-combat veteran’s lay statements may be acceptable for establishing service incurrence or aggravation but must be weighed against other evidence in the claims folder, including the absence of military records documenting or supporting the statements.

References:  For more information on

Lay evidence is generally afforded probative value if it is provided by a person who has knowledge of facts or circumstances and conveys matters that can be observed and described by a layperson. 

The value accorded to other types of lay evidence depends on such factors as

  • The accuracy or clarity of the individual’s memory
  • Direct personal knowledge or experience
  • The recency of the event, and
  • The competence of the reporting person.

*A medically untrained individual is not usually competent to offer a medical opinion regarding the etiology of disorders, and such an opinion is generally assigned little probative weight.

References:  For more information on

Can I Write A Personal Statement in Support of My VA Claim?

A veterans’ own statement, covering in sufficient detail a condition that is within his/her ability to describe, such as his/her own symptoms, may, to that extent, constitute credible and competent lay evidence.

Rationale:  While such statements have self-serving aspects, the claimant is often the most qualified source to describe the circumstances of the disabling effects of the disease or injury.

Okay, what does all this mean for your VA claim?

It means that the VA MUST consider all lay and medical evidence of record in a case with respect to benefits.

Lay evidence is one type of evidence that must be considered, and that competent lay evidence can be sufficient in and of itself.

Want to see a real VA lay statement example? Click HERE.  

The problem, though, is that RVSRs at the VA don’t interpret this properly, and frankly, neither do the courts.

How Do I Obtain a DBQ and a Medical Nexus Opinion?

This is why it’s so important for veterans to obtain DBQs and Medical Nexus Letters.

A credible Medical Nexus Opinion from a private provider IN ADDITION to any lay evidence provided in support of your VA claim.

A Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) can help you prove your medical diagnosis and your current symptoms of the disability or condition.

A Medical Nexus Letter from a private provider can help you prove the “Nexus,” which is that logical link to an in-service injury or event that led to your current disability or condition.

If you need some help to win, service connect, and get your VA claim rated at the appropriate level under the law, join VA Claims Insider Elite now.

American flag flying in a blue sky.

About VA Claims Insider

  • VA Claims Insider is a highly rated, veteran-owned and operated business.   
  • 25,000+ disabled veterans served in our membership programs since 2016.   
  • Employs 200+ teammates; comprised of 44 veterans as well as military spouses.   
  • 4.7/5.0 average rating out of 5,000+ total reviews; over 4,000 5-star reviews. 

About the Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).

Brian’s frustration with the VA claim process led him to create VA Claims Insider, which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start. 

As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.

He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

Related Articles

Featured Resources

Elite Membership

Dear Veteran,
Here’s the brutal truth about VA disability claims:

According to our data, 8/10 (80%) of veterans reading this message right now are underrated by the VA…

This means you do NOT currently have the VA disability rating and compensation YOU deserve, and you could be missing out on thousands of dollars of tax-free compensation and benefits each month.

As a fellow disabled Veteran this is shameful and I’m on a mission to change it.

Brian Reese here, Air Force service-disabled Veteran and Founder @ VA Claims Insider.

Since 2016, VA Claims Insider has helped thousands of Veterans just like you get the VA rating and compensation they deserve in less time.

If accepted into our ELITE membership program, you’ll get free up-front access and permission to use $13,119 worth of proprietary VA claim resources, including access to our network of independent medical professionals for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Medical Nexus Letters, which could help you get a HIGHER VA rating in LESS time.

It’s FREE to get started, so click “Go Elite Now” below to complete our 3-step intake process.

  1. Complete Basic Information
  2. Sign Members Agreement
  3. Join the Mastermind Group

If you’re stuck, frustrated, underrated, and currently rated between 0%-90%, VA Claims Insider Elite is for you!

Click “Go Elite Now” below to get started today and a member of our team will be in touch within minutes.

Go Elite Now!

Why Choose VA Claims Insider

You’ve exhausted your free resources

You're not alone. Thousands of other Veterans in our Community are here for you.

Veteran Community

You’re ready to get the rating you deserve

We know the pain of feeling stuck, frustrated, and alone, and we want to make this process as easy and painless as possible for you.

Explore Elite Membership

We win ONLY when YOU win

Hear from fellow Veterans just like you, with many of our Veteran Ambassadors having gone through our programs.

Schedule a Call

Fellow Veterans:

For a limited time, you can book a free, no-obligation VA Claim Discovery Call with one of our experts.

Book A Call

Fellow Veterans:

For a limited time, you can book a free, no-obligation VA Claim Discovery Call with one of our experts.

Book A Call