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Lay/Nexus evidence


I have several buddy letters, DBQ's and nexus letters for an appeal I have. I'm also preparing another claim for other issues.
1. During an initial claim are buddy letters, DBQ's and nexus taken into consideration?

2. Is lay evidence taken into consideration for the initial appeal or do they deny so you will have to appeal to the BVA?

Some of the  issues I have are unfortunately not in my SMR due to poor documentation by the proper personnel who outranked me 100% of the time. I have to rely on lay evidence for my claim in most cases.

Thanks in advance


Thank you for your help everyone. I am relatively new to the process. 

Edited by Rick33

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Guidelines for evidence is located in

M21-1, Part III Subpart iv, Ch 5, Section A "Principles for reviewing Evidence and Decision Making".

You should start there for answers, just google the reference.

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Lay evidence is generally afforded probative value 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.

A medically-untrained individual is not usually competent to offer a medical opinion
regarding the etiology of disorders and such an opinion is generally assigned little
probative weight. (111.iv.5.A.6.b. When to use lay evidence)

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Good answers.  Lay evidence works well for #2 of the Caluza elements, (establishing an "event in service" or aggravation).  

It does not work well to provide a nexus, or diagnosis. (Elements 1 and 3 of the Caluza elements).  Your nexus and diagnosis must be provided by a doctor.  1000  of your buddies could swear you are diagnosed with "xyz disease", or that your xyz disease is at least as likely as not related to service, all to no avail.  

Your buddies can testify things like whether or not you snore, or maybe that they saw you get punched in the jaw.  They could testify that you were near a bomb which went off, or that they saw you get hit in the head.   They may also testify that they were in Vietnam with you, if maybe your records were incomplete, and you needed to establish combat service.   

Maybe these examples will help explain the purpose of buddy letters.  

Edited by broncovet

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 I agree with broncovet  & if you use buddy statements they need merit & credibility, they all need to be describe accurately and have the dates all the same  and the unit and locations need to match up  the VA Can check these records to an event that happen with morning reports that are turn in daily to prove a situation, solution or event without being of record. this helps when a Veteran is in a combat zone and has been tag with a TEMPORARY MOS. And that MOS is not on Record...a lot of times this happens especially in a combat zone.

 & Veterans need to get professional medical opinions from Dr's and specialist in order to substantiate their claim ...if you have this medical documentation it makes it so much easier for the raters...I even at times repeat my self in some of my claims that I did  so I knew the rater would read it.

I put please see page 2 for Nexus and Diagnosis / 3rd paragraph as to what Dr Smith Wrote medically about my Condition as he went into great detail. to read my medical records as well as examined me physically.

or something close to this.  but not 8 or 9 pages long  just straight to the point.

Edited by Buck52

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Your Parents could give lay  statements. They could testify that when you left for Iraq, you had 2 legs, and both were missing when you came home!! This is something they can see.

If your brother was the only one you told about being raped in the barracks during boot camp, his lay statement is viable because he can testify that you reported the incident to him. If that corroborates with medical records referring to treatment for STD's around the same time, it is probative and sufficient evidence. 


There are many ways to use lay statements from family, friends as well as statements from people who you served with on active duty to shore up a claim. The only wrong lay statements are the ones you failed to get because you didnt think it would count. Just stay honest.

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