Sworn Declaration Form (Downloadable Word Document Template)
A lot of Veterans use VA Form 21-4138 to submit lay evidence to the VA.
The VA Form 21-4138 is, essentially, the VA Form for a Blank Piece of Paper.
There are 2 problems with using VA Form 21-4138:
Problem #1: The C-File is often so full of these forms, that the VA rater overlooks the information in them.
Problem #2: The information on VA Form 21-4138 can be easily dismissed by the BVA because of these words on the form: “I CERTIFY THAT the statements on this form are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.”
There is no real legal value in certification that information is “true and correct”. It establishes only that the person who write the information is competent to provide the information.
It does NOT suggest that the evidence is credible.
All VA evidence must be competent, but credible evidence is given far more weight than merely competent evidence.
By analogy, if competent evidence is a shiny nickel, then credible evidence is a crisp new $100 bill.
Solving the problem of Credible Lay Evidence.
If you are going to take the time to submit lay evidence, wouldn’t you rather the BVA see it as a crisp new $100 bill, instead of a shiny new nickel?
Of course you would.
How do you do this is the harder question?
If you have some time and money, you can pay a notary to administer an oath and affirm that you signed a document under penalty of perjury.
OR, you can use a Sworn Declaration form that the ALF uses to add lay evidence to the Veteran’s C-File.
The sworn declaration does not require a notary’s signature (saving you $8 – $12 for a notary fee and all the travel time to and from the notary’s office).
The sworn declaration – according to 28 USC § 1746 – carries the same weight as a notarized affidavit.
Just be aware: by using this form you are saying that you are making the statements “under pain of perjury”.
This is what makes it more credible – even the BVA has to acknowledge that Veterans are not likely to lie about a particular fact if they are aware that they could spend time in Federal prison for lying under oath.
So make darn sure that what you put in this Sworn Declaration is truthful and honest.
Don’t use it to rant, complain, or ask for claim statuses:use it for statements of fact that are within your personal knowledge only.