Valor Firm’s VA Claims Manual

This manual is designed to help veterans understand how VA decides disability claims. At the left, there are links to all the articles in the manual. Using the search bar below, you can search for specific terms like “PTSD” or “DBQ.”

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In this section are articles regarding the various types of evidence used to prove a claim.  VA has a duty to assist the veteran in gathering evidence, especially evidence which is in the possession of a service branch or VA.  Generally, evidence falls into two categories: “lay” and “medical.”

The VA Has A Duty To Assist The Veteran

The veteran is not required to provide all of the evidence needed to prove each point.  Congress passed a law that requires the VA to assist a veteran by both notifying the veteran of the information required to prove a claim and by helping the veteran obtain the evidence necessary to prove the claim.  This includes gathering a veteran’s military and private treatment records.  It also requires that the VA provide a medical examination or obtain a medical opinion if one is needed to decide the claim.

To trigger the VA’s “duty to assist,” the veteran has to provide some minimal evidence to establish their claim. The veteran’s initial claim should, at the least, include a statement which explains in detail the current disability and the in-service disease, injury or event which the veteran believes caused it.  The veteran should also list all medical facilities (military, VA, or private) where the veteran received treatment for the disabling condition.  VA is required to request the veteran’s records from those facilities.

Two Types Of Evidence: “Lay” And “Medical”

The VA defines “lay evidence” as “any evidence not requiring that the proponent have specialized education, training, or experience. Lay evidence is competent 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 lay person.”  Basically, when it comes to VA claims, lay evidence is anything that doesn’t require a medical degree to diagnose.  Medical evidence is just that: evidence which comes from a health professional or diagnostic exam.

Questions about your VA Claim?

If you’ve already filed a claim and received a rating decision from the VA, feel like you are caught in VA’s hamster wheel that is the appeals process, or have questions about your existing rating, Valor Firm can obtain your claim file and perform a free evaluation of your claim.  Please call us at (504) 218-2510 or fill out the form on our contact page.

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If the VA denied your claim, you didn’t get the rating you deserve, or have lost an appeal before the Board of Veterans Appeals, we can help. Contact us by filling out the following form.