Having served as a senior Veterans Service Representative for six years, there are a couple of questions I am often asked about claims processing – “What is evidence?” and “Is my evidence helpful to my claim?”
What is “evidence”?
In short, it is anything you (the claimant) submit to VA, or VA attempts to obtain on your behalf, in support of your disability claim.
According to Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, evidence can be (but is not limited to):
- Military separation papers (such as DD 214, etc.)
- Separation Health Assessments or DoD’s Separation History and Physical Examinations
- VA Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs); Veterans Health Administration treatment records
- Medical records from private providers
- “Buddy statements” – statements from fellow Veterans you served with, family members or friends who can support your claim
Sometimes, VA requests very specific evidence. In those instances, we will indicate exactly what we are looking for.
However, if you file a Fully Developed Claim through eBenefits that is your way of telling VA that you have uploaded all the appropriate evidence necessary to support your claim and have no intention to submit additional evidence.
Is my evidence helpful to my claim?
Over the years, I’ve seen a variety of evidence submitted by claimants. If you’re thinking of sending VA evidence to support your claim, I encourage you to ask yourself, “Does this evidence directly support my claim?” Evidence that most closely relates to the issue or issues you are claiming will help VA process your claim more quickly and accurately.
If you’re still unsure, a VA representative or a Veterans Service Organization may be able to help.
Have a question about what “evidence” you should submit? Leave a comment below.
Mark P. Ledesma is a public affairs specialist with the Veterans Benefits Administration after having served six years as a senior Veterans Service Representative at the San Diego VA Regional Office. Mark is also a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps.