Tips for New VA Clients

So you’ve accepted Berry Law Firm as your representative to the VA…What happens now?

First and foremost, welcome to our VA practice! Our team is committed to getting you the VA benefits you earned through your faithful service to our country.

Things to Remember:

  • You are not a number.

We use your name in all communications, because you are much more than a case number to us.

If your case is out of the ordinary or has extenuating circumstances, we will go the extra mile to accommodate you. Dealing with the VA is our job, and it’s because of you that all of us come to work each day.

  • You are never a bother.

Do you need answers to your questions? Ask us!

We have trained and educated legal assistants who are able to deal with most, if not all of your questions. In the case where an attorney’s input is needed, your attorney will get involved. We value you, we learn from you, and we are focused on getting the best result for your case.

  • You can reach us.

When you call the Berry Law office, we strive to call you back within 22 hours or less.

If you are inquiring as to the status of your claims and the projected date that we expect a rating decision or Statement of the Case, you’ll likely speak to one of our highly trained legal assistants. They do this on a regular basis, and have 100% access to your file, including up-to-the-minute data as it is completed by your attorney. You don’t have to wait for your attorney to be free to get updates!

  • We are confidential.

We are bound by law to uphold our duty to keep all records, emails and phone calls in the strictest confidence.

If you are unable to take our phone calls and would like to designate someone else for us to speak with (spouse, partner, significant other, brother, etc), please ask for a waiver of the confidentiality and state specifically who we can discuss your case with. No one else may have access to your case or your attorney.

  • We strongly believe in Attorney-Client communication.

To that end, we would prefer for any filings to be sent to our office, so we can file them with the VA.

This ensures that we have an accurate and up-to-date file for you, and we know precisely what information the VA has. Additionally, we can make sure nothing that may be misinterpreted is sent to the VA. From time to time, we may ask you to rewrite something for clarity of communication.

Note: Please understand that ebenefits is not always up-to-date. Anything (including all appeals) filed on your behalf is kept in your Berry Law file, where we also keep proof that items were received by the VA and the date and time they were received. Ebenefits is not the final word.

We do not take chances with your claims.

Once you sign a Power of Attorney form with our firm, Berry Law does the following:

  • Directly files a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to receive a copy of your file.

This gives us all the available information so we can fight the VA to get your hard-earned disability pay.

Like many steps of this process, this takes time. In some cases we may wait to file your Notice of Disagreement (NOD) until all available information is in. If the copy of file is not sent in a timely fashion, we will likely write the appeal (NOD) and supplement it later when all the facts are in.

  • Files a VA form 21-0966, which is an “intent to file.”

This ensures any new claims we file on your behalf (in the next year) will be compensated from the day the 21-0966 is filed with the VA, which gives you an earlier effective date for retroactive payments (or “backpay”) owed to you. This will ensure a higher backpay from the VA because you will not only be paid from the date of claim, but also the date of the intent to file.

  • Sends out additional forms asking for information of any non-VA medical provider you see

This gives the VA access to your outside medical records.

They have a legal duty to assist you by getting those records. If they cannot do so, they are required to inform you of this. If that happens, you will need to obtain those records (if possible), and we are here to assist you. Again, communication is key.

  • (In some cases) Sends you forms related to specific claims.

Your word carries a lot of legal weight in the VA appeal process.

We apologize in advance for the “homework.” The VA requires specific forms, and we want to make sure everything is in order so they can promptly review the evidence.

A Bit About the VA

Many of you come to Berry Law after growing weary of the constant (and often inconsistent) battle with the VA, but others are not used to dealing with them.

Remember that there are 58 VA regional offices in the US, each with varying amounts of staff. Some of these staff may have more experience than others. This means that the information they give to you may or may not be accurate, and they are not bound by what they tell you. If you’re asking for important information, please get them to send you an email confirming what they tell you over the phone or in person. This will confirm what you were told.

Better yet, set yourself free and let us deal with them.

The VA is frustrating at best, and once you appoint us your power of attorney, it is our job to deal with that frustration. (And, as an added benefit, it may lower your blood pressure)

Once again, Welcome to Berry Law Firm!

We look forward to serving our Veterans and getting you the maximum benefits you have earned through your service!