Transcript of "Attiglawfirm.com if i-see_another_va_form_214138_im_going_to_________"
"If I see another VA Form 21-4138 I'm going to ________"
...well, I'm not going to complete that sentence. You can
probably fill in the blank in ways more colorful than me.
I hate this VA form. With a passion. Almost as much as I hate the
Boston Red Sox. (Sorry Boston Vets).
I believe that the VA Form 21-4138 is one of the least helpful - and
most worthless - forms in the entire VA claims form library.
I also believe that VA Form 21-4138 has the power to create REAL
problems in a Veterans' claim for disability benefits.
Let me tell you why.
What is the VA Form 21-4138?
VA Form 21-4138 is also called the "Statement in Support of Claim".
It is, at is most basic level, the VA Form for a blank sheet of paper. Here is what it looks like (clicking on the image will
allow you to download a copy of VA Form 21-4138 from the VA website):
In 7 years of reviewing hundreds - if not thousands - of VA Claim C-Files (the C-File is your VA Claims File and is the
most important document in your entire VA claim), I have seen Veterans use this form in any number of ways:
To request an update on their VA Claim status.
To submit stories and information that the Veteran thinks supports one of the 4 Pillars of a VA Claim (Eligibility,
Service-connection, Impairment Ratings, and Effective Dates.
To submit gripes and complaints about the VA Claims process.
To provide details of PTSD stressor events.
To disagree with a statement in a VA Ratings Decision or Statement of the Case
To update the VA on a change in dependency status.
To add lay evidence, or buddy statements, in support of the Veterans VA Claim.
The problems with this are two-fold.
First, most things that a Veteran uses a VA Form 21-4138 for can be BETTER accomplished using a different form.
For example, a Veteran can - and should - add a dependent to their claim by using VA Form 21-4170 .
The Notice of Disagreement should be filed using VA Form 21-0598. Requests for updates and VA Claim Status
should be done using a letter, that includes your SSN and VA Claim Number, submitted via fax AND Certified Mail
Return Receipt Requested.
Second, the VA tells you what it uses this form for - and its not to prove your claim. Read the fine print in the
Respondent Burden section: "We need this form to obtain evidence in support of your claim for benefits...."
Isn't that one of the BIGGEST problems that the VBA has? That they DON'T obtain evidence in support of your claim?
Why are you giving them a Form that will encourage them to NOT do anything in your claim?
And, then, there is this.....
Veterans who "over-use" VA Form 21-4138 may lead VA to ignore the form
Why is that?
The more frequently this form appears in a VA Claims File, the less it stands out.
Human beings are, well, human - the more we see something, the more accustomed to it we become. I have noticed
in our own VA C-File reviews how easy it is to overlook the VA Form 21-4138 because there are often dozens in the VA
You can verify this by looking at your most recent VA Ratings Decision or Statement of the Case.
Compare the list of VA Form 21-4138s that you have submitted in your VA Claim to the list of VA Form 21-4138 that the
VA considered in the "Evidence Listing" section of the VA Ratings Decision or Statement of the Case.
90% of the time, the VA Form 21-4138 is not listed in the evidence that the rater claims to have reviewed. The Veteran
in one case, submitted over 125 copies of VA Form 21-4138 in his VA claim in a 25 year appeal period (1988-2013).
Look at how many VA Forms 21-4138 appear on the list of evidence in his VA Ratings Decision:
The brevity of this Veteran's evidence listing in his VA Ratings Decision is absurd as it is - his C-File was over 10,000
pages long. That C-File took me 2 solid weeks to review (the first time...it took me over 3 reviews of this C-File to
make sense of the Veteran's REAL claims).
Here's what is more disturbing.
The decision in the above claim was about TDIU, and the Veteran submitted valuable information about his
unemployability in each and every one of the 125+ copies of VA Form 21-4138 he submitted.
The information that won the claim for this Veteran - in the end - was first referenced - or found - on a VA Form 21-
4138 that the VA ignored or overlooked. I think that the VA had just become "numb" to the VA Form 21-4138, and
glosses over it when it appears in a VA Claim.
But there is another reason that VA Form 21-4138 is a problem.
Here is the BIG reason I think VA Form 21-4138 is "no good" for most purposes.
It's because of a simple phrase that appears on the form:
"I CERTIFY THAT the statements on this form are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief."
I had a Federal Judge tell me once that the 8 most damaging words a witness could use are "to the best of my
knowledge and belief."
Let me give you an example. What statement do you find more believable, trustworthy, or credible:
Bob Smith: "To the best of my knowledge and belief, the person I saw break into my neighbor's house was the
neighbor's drug-dealing son, Johnny."