Understanding the Role of Accredited Attorneys in VA Disability Claims

A recent Washington Post article has sparked numerous questions about the difference between an accredited attorney and a non-accredited agent in the context of Veterans Administration (VA) disability claims. This post aims to answer these questions and shed light on the crucial role of accredited attorneys in the VA disability claims process.

Accredited Attorneys vs. Non-Accredited Agents in VA Disability Claims

Under current VA disability law, accredited attorneys and agents must not charge a fee for filing an initial claim. They can only charge fees on claims in which they represent the veteran on appeal. This means VA disability attorneys only get paid when the VA denies a claim and the attorney pursues an appeal, typically on a contingency basis.

However, unaccredited claims coaches often argue that because they are not accredited, the laws and rules that accredited agents and attorneys must follow don’t apply to them. This has led to some unaccredited agents charging fees for filing initial VA disability claims, a practice that some states have made illegal.

Regulation of Accredited Attorneys in VA Disability Claims

Accredited attorneys and agents are regulated in two ways. First, they’re regulated by the accrediting agency, in this case, the VA. Second, attorneys are also accountable to their state bars and the courts in which they are licensed to practice. The VA conducts rigorous due diligence with the claims agents it accredits. In the past three years, the agency has removed or suspended the accreditation of nearly 15,000 attorneys, claims agents, and veterans service group representatives.

Potential Fraud Implications for Veterans Filing VA Disability Claims

There’s always the potential that bad advice could lead to fraudulent statements or false medical records, resulting in fraud charges such as wire fraud. It’s often the person who files a false VA disability claim who gets charged, making it crucial for veterans to understand that putting false information on a form could result in a criminal charge.

Why Hire an Accredited Attorney for VA Disability Claims?

Accredited attorneys, like those at Berry Law, can represent veterans not only at the administrative level but also at the federal court system. They know the proper way to appeal to preserve the veteran’s earliest effective date, which could potentially save them tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in backpay if their effective date was not preserved properly.

Veterans are encouraged to do their due diligence to ensure their agents and attorneys are accredited with the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you’re a veteran interested in appealing your VA disability claim, consider reaching out to an accredited attorney or agent for assistance.

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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