The Veterans Administration (VA) allows veterans to hire an attorney to help them with their disability claims only after an initial claim has been denied, or after the VA has offered a benefits award that the veteran does not believe is sufficient. So whether you have been denied or you have received an award that you feel is too low, you are permitted to reach out to a lawyer for help.
Why Should You Hire an Attorney to Help You With Your Disability Appeal?
If you are already fully versed in legal affairs, as I was when I appealed my own disability award, you may not need help from a lawyer. However, even for me, the process was long, grueling, and stressful. The good news is that retaining an experienced VA lawyer not only saves you that stress, but also improves your chance of success.
Veterans with legal representation for their appeals have just a 14% denial rate, while veterans who represent themselves have a nearly 30% denial rate, per the 2018 annual report by the Chairman of the Board of Veterans Appeals. Attorney representation also increases the amount of the benefits that veterans receive versus representing themselves.
What Kind of Attorney Should You Choose?
Be sure to choose a VA-accredited attorney with years of experience practicing veterans law and with clear empathy and understanding for the needs of veterans. Not all lawyers can do what we do. VA attorneys receive special training and develop the expertise needed to work with the Veterans Administration.
Our law office is dedicated specifically to veterans and is staffed by disabled veterans and military family members. We know what it’s like to be denied and have to appeal our claims before the VA. That’s why we’re passionate about helping our nation’s heroes get the compensation they deserve for serving our great country.
How Does a VA Attorney Get Paid?
By law, a lawyer can charge between 20% and 33% of the back pay you are awarded. What that means is, if you appeal an original ruling by the VA and are successful, the VA will give you a lump sum of money equal to the back pay that you are owed from the time of the original ruling to the time benefits are granted. But there’s great news for veterans: the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) requires the VA itself to pay your attorney 20% of your back pay.
That means you get to keep your entire lump sum of back pay and your lawyer is paid directly by the VA 20% of the lump sum. However, notice I said that by law, attorneys can charge up to 33%. So be very careful and closely read your contract before you sign. It’s reasonable to expect reimbursement from you of small, incidental fees such as the cost for copies of medical records, but reputable lawyers who put the needs of veterans before their own will not charge attorney fees greater than the 20% that the VA will pay them.
You have served your country, as have we. You deserve to be compensated for the disabilities you incurred while keeping our nation safe. At the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, we are dedicated to helping other veterans by navigating the VA for them and helping them get the best possible award for their service.