* This site is privately owned and is not affiliated or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.

Understanding the VA Form 21-4138 — Statement in Support of Claim

Picture this: one day an old friend asks to borrow your car. Would you let them based on the request alone? If they don’t offer any more information, then there’s a good chance. 

Now imagine that you’re the old friend and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has something that you or a loved one needs. If you send in a VA claim with very few details, you might not get approved. Here’s where the VA form 21-4138, or the “Statement in Support of Claim,” comes in. This form is like a blank canvas that allows you to paint a picture of your situation to better support your veteran’s claim for disability compensation, pension, or a different VA benefit. With it, you can provide context, clarification, or additional information that may assist the VA in deciding your eligibility for veterans benefits.

Step-by-Step Guide to Completing VA Form 21-4138

Completing VA Form 21-4138 is a pretty straightforward process in the United States. Remember that the goal of the form is to provide additional information or statements that support your claim for VA benefits. Be clear, honest, and thorough in your statement, and make sure that all required information is provided accurately. Here are the general steps to complete the form.

  1. Download the Form: Obtain a copy of VA Form 21-4138 from the official U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website or a local VA office.
  2. Provide Personal Information: Fill in your personal information at the top of the form, including your name, Social Security Number, and contact details.
  3. Specify the Type of Veterans Claim: Write down the type of claim you want to support  (e.g., compensation, pension, health care, disability, or other VA benefits). 
  4. Complete the Statement: Use the provided space to write a clear and concise statement supporting your VA claim. Include relevant details, explanations, or additional information that can strengthen your case.
  5. Attach Supporting Documents: If you have any supporting documents or additional evidence, attach them to the form. This may include medical records for disability benefits, letters (or buddy statements), or other relevant materials.
  6. Sign and Date: Sign and date the form at the bottom to certify that the information provided is accurate and complete.
  7. Submit the Form: Submit the completed VA Form 21-4138 and any supporting documents to the appropriate state veterans affairs offices. You can typically submit it through mail or in person.
  8. Keep a Copy: It’s advisable to make a copy of the completed form and any attached documents for your records before submitting it.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls When Completing the VA Form 21-4138

When you go to fill out the VA Form 21-4138, keep the following common mistakes in mind so your form is submitted accurately.

  • Incomplete Information: Ensure that all required fields on the form are filled out. Incomplete information may lead to delays or complications in processing your veteran’s claim.
  • Vague or Ambiguous Statements: Be clear and specific in your statements. Avoid vague or ambiguous language that may not effectively communicate the details of your situation.
  • Providing Unnecessary Information: While it’s important to provide relevant details, avoid including unnecessary information that may distract from the main points. For example, if you submit a claim for compensation due to a medical disability, you only need to include health care information that is relevant, not your entire life history.
  • Failure to Sign and Date: Always sign and date the form. A missing signature or date can invalidate the submission.
  • Not Including Supporting Documents: If you have supporting documents, such as medical records or a buddy statement, make sure to attach them to the form. These documents can strengthen your case.
  • Inconsistencies with Other Claims or Records: Ensure that the information on your form aligns with other claims you may have submitted or other existing records. Inconsistencies may raise questions and impact the credibility of your submission.
  • Waiting Too Long to Submit: Timeliness is crucial. Submit the form and supporting documents as soon as possible to avoid delays in processing. This is especially important if submitting a claim for accrued benefits that your deceased loved one was eligible for.
  • Ignoring Instructions: Follow the instructions provided on the form. Each section may have specific guidance, and failure to follow instructions could lead to errors.
  • Not Keeping a Copy: Before submitting the form, make a copy for your records. This ensures that you have a copy of the information provided and any supporting documents.
  • Not Seeking Assistance if Needed: If you have questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the VA or seek guidance from a veterans service organization. Getting help from a VA claims insider can ensure that you complete the form accurately.

Common Issues and FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to VA Form 21-4138. These FAQs provide general guidance, but if you have specific questions based on your unique circumstances, it’s recommended to consult with the VA or seek assistance from knowledgeable sources.

What is VA Form 21-4138 used for?

VA Form 21-4138, the “Statement in Support of Claim,” is used by veterans or their loved ones to provide additional information or statements supporting their claims for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

When should I use VA Form 21-4138?

You should use the form when you need to provide extra information, context, or statements to support your claim for VA benefits. It’s commonly used to clarify details, offer explanations, or submit additional evidence.

Where can I get VA Form 21-4138?

You can download VA Form 21-4138 from the official U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website or obtain a copy from a local VA office.

What types of claims can be supported with this form?

VA Form 21-4138 can be used to support various claims including claims for compensation, pension, VA disability claims, or other VA benefits.

Is there a deadline for submitting the form?

While there may not be a strict deadline, it’s advisable to submit the form and supporting documents as soon as possible to avoid delays in processing, especially if you’re trying to claim accrued benefits.

Can I submit the form electronically?

The preferred methods for submitting VA Form 21-4138 are typically through mail or in-person submission. Check with your VA regional office for specific submission instructions.

What information should I include in the statement section?

In the statement section, provide clear and concise information that supports your VA claim. Include relevant details, explanations, and any additional information that may be crucial for making decisions about your eligibility. For example, if your claim involves a medical condition, consider describing the nature and severity of your health issues and include information about the diagnosis, treatments, and its impact on your daily life and activities.

Can I attach supporting documents?

Yes, you can and should attach supporting documents, such as medical records, letters, or other relevant materials, to strengthen your case. Form 21-4138 and buddy letters (character references) go hand in hand and can greatly support your case.

Do I need to fill out the form on my own, or can someone assist me?

You can fill out the form on your own, but if you need assistance, you may consult VA outreach materials or seek help from the VA or a veterans service organization. It’s important to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.

How long does it take for the VA to process a claim after submitting the form?

Processing times can vary. For information on the status of your claim, you can contact the VA or check the status online through the VA’s official website.

Several forms are closely associated with VA Form 21-4138, and individuals may need to use them depending on their specific circumstances. Here are some related forms and explanations of when and why individuals might use them.

VA Form 21-526

Veteran’s Application for Compensation and/or Pension

  • When to Use: Veterans use this form to apply for compensation and/or pension benefits.
  • Why: This form initiates the process of claiming compensation or pension benefits. VA Form 21-4138 may be used in conjunction with this form to provide additional statements or information supporting the claim.

VA Form 21-4142

Authorization and Consent to Release Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

  • When to Use: This form is used to authorize the release of medical and non-medical information to the VA.
  • Why: Veterans may need to use this form to grant permission for the VA to obtain necessary records and information relevant to their claim.

VA Form 21-2680

Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance

  • When to Use: Veterans may use this form to apply for benefits related to housebound status or the need for regular aid and attendance.
  • Why: This form is used when individuals are seeking additional benefits based on their need for assistance or housebound status. Supporting statements on VA Form 21-4138 can be included to provide further context.

VA Form 21-0958

Notice of Disagreement

  • When to Use: Veterans use this form to initiate an appeal when they disagree with a VA decision.
  • Why: If a veteran disagrees with a decision regarding their benefits claim, they may use VA Form 21-0958 to start the appeals process. VA Form 21-4138 can be used to provide additional statements or information supporting the appeal.

Tips for a Smooth Application Process

Navigating the VA claims process can be complex and overwhelming, but there are several tips and insights that can help veterans streamline the process and increase the efficiency of their claims. Below are some valuable tips for you to consider.

  • Understand the Process: Familiarize yourself with the overall claims process. Understanding the larger picture as well as the individual steps involved can help you anticipate what’s required and reduce confusion.
  • Gather Documentation Early: Collect all relevant documentation, including military records, medical records, and service treatment records, before initiating your claim.
  • Use the Right Forms: Be sure you are using the correct forms for your specific claim. Different benefits may require different forms.
  • Seek Assistance: Consider seeking assistance from Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), accredited agents, or attorneys. They can provide guidance, help fill out forms, and advocate on your behalf.
  • Be Thorough and Accurate: Provide complete and accurate information on all forms to avoid delays in processing.
  • Include Supporting Statements: Use VA Form 21-4138 to provide supporting statements or additional information that can strengthen your VA claim. Clearly explain the circumstances and provide context.
  • Keep Copies of Everything: Make copies of all forms, supporting documents, and correspondence. Having a complete record can be helpful in case of any discrepancies or if you need to appeal a decision.
  • Utilize Technology: Take advantage of online tools and resources provided by the VA. Online submission of forms and tracking systems can simplify the process.
  • Consider Filing Online: Some claims can be filed online through the VA’s eBenefits portal. This can speed up the submission process and provide a faster response.
  • Respond Promptly: If the VA requests additional information or clarification, respond promptly. Delays in responding can slow down the overall process.
  • Know Your Rights: Understand your rights within the claims process. If you disagree with a decision, familiarize yourself with the appeals process.

By following these tips and staying organized throughout the claims process, you’ll be able to navigate the bureaucracy more efficiently and have a smoother experience. So if you find yourself filling out VA form 21-4138, remember that this is your opportunity to infuse a little life into your claim. Provide concise, relevant information, fill out the form completely, and watch out for common mistakes. If you ever need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone familiar with and qualified to help you with the VA claims process.