We run into a lot of misconceptions about what an attorney can do for a
veteran seeking disability compensation from the VA. When deciding whether
you should hire an attorney, consider the following:
Should I Hire an Attorney?
If you have received a denial from the VA, it might be time to contact
an attorney. If you have filed claims in the past and need to reopen those
claims, an attorney may also be helpful at that point, particularly if
you need to appeal your claims to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals
(BVA) or the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). We’ll
get to why an attorney can help in a moment.
Will an Attorney Make My Claims Go Faster?
In some instances, yes, in others, no. There are things an attorney can
do that may expedite a claim on appeal, but it you just want to request
that the VA expedite a claim, your service officer should be able to do
it for you.
An effective attorney can put you in a position to win your appeal the
first time around, which will make your claims go faster. Veterans’
claims often get caught in a cycle of denial, appeal, remand, denial,
appeal, remand, denial, appeal, remand, and so on. This can add years
to a claim. An attorney experienced in veterans’ disability law
can effectively present the law and the facts to the VA the first time
around, which in many instances gets veterans their disability benefits faster.
However, just hiring an attorney does not make the process go any faster.
According to a recent report, over 440,000 veterans have pending appeals,
including 80,000 veterans who have claims over five years old and 5,000
with claims over a decade old. Most VA Regional Offices try to work the
oldest claims first, and while new claims are being processed relatively
quickly, appeals just take a lot longer. Just keep in mind that your attorney
doesn’t get paid until you do, which means he or she is highly motivated to win.
Then What Can an Attorney Do for Me?
Although the VA disability compensation system is supposed to be veteran-friendly,
the reality is that the rules and regulations governing the claims process
can be confusing for everyone involved. Just as most people would not
want to go through other legal processes without competent representation,
veterans deserve to have representation as well. A good attorney understands
the claims process, what evidence is needed to establish service connection,
and how to maximize an evaluation. They may be able to find benefits you
didn’t even know about. An attorney will also track appeal deadlines
to protect your interests.
What Can’t an Attorney Do?
Generally speaking, an attorney cannot intervene with doctors or the VA
healthcare system. If you’re not getting the treatment or medication
you think you need, an attorney cannot force a doctor to help you. The
contract that you have with your attorney will determine the services
being offered. An attorney who focuses solely on VA disability compensation
may not be able to help you with other legal problems, although you can
When you’re communicating with your attorney, focus on what you need
to do to get the compensation benefits to which you’re entitled.
Your attorney wants to help you; he or she can best do that by focusing
on your appeal and your records. Remember to keep your communications
short and focused – your attorney will not only thank you, but they’ll
also have more time to work on your case.
If you are a veteran and your disability claim has been denied by the VA,
please call us at 888.883.2483 or
contact us online. Your consultation is free.