Applying for and receiving disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can be a difficult process. Claims for disability compensation can take years to complete and thoroughly support only to be inexplicably denied by the VA. The Department of Veterans Affairs can deny disability claims for a variety of reasons, ranging from a lack of evidence to the absence of a current diagnosis. Sometimes it can seem like it is impossible to get your claim approved by the VA. This is where our team, which is comprised of VA certified attorneys from all 4 branches of the military, can help.
What is a VA Accreditation?
Individuals looking to help Veterans with their disability claim can be accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The process of becoming accredited includes undergoing a formal application and training process and being recognized by the VA as capable of assisting claimants with their disability claims before the VA. To be accredited, however, you do not need to be an attorney. VA accredited representatives include a litany of individuals who wish to help Veterans in their pursuit of VA disability compensation. Some examples of VA accredited representatives include Veterans Service Organizations (VSO), claims agents, and attorneys. All these individuals can assist Veterans at different parts of the disability claims process.
How to Become Accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs
To assist a claimant in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of a claim of VA benefits, a person must first be accredited by the VA. Individuals who are available to receive accreditation are:
- Representatives of VA-recognized veterans service organizations (VSOs)
- VA accredited attorneys in their own individual capacity
- Claims agents accredited in their own individual capacity
For Attorneys and Claims Agents
To become accredited, individuals or claims agents must:
- Complete VA Form 21a
- Attach necessary documents to VA Form 21a:
- These documents include a certificate of good standing from state bars, courts, or Federal or State agencies.
- Submit your VA Form 21a and any attachments to the Office of the General Counsel (OGC)
- Complete 3 hours of qualifying continuing legal education (CLE) requirements during the first 12-month period following the date of accreditation and another 3 hours of CLE every two years following that
- Provide a copy of your training certificate to the OGC
- Annually submit certification of good standing for any court, bar, or Federal or State agency to which you are admitted to practice
Is a VA Certified Attorney Better than a Representative?
There is no way of knowing ahead of time if an attorney or non-attorney representative will be better suited at appealing a VA decision. A lot of factors can weigh into how much an attorney or representative can help you with your claim, including:
- How long have they practiced VA appeals?
- What is their knowledge of military service? Did they serve?
- What types of cases they have dealt with? Have they taken cases to the CAVC?
- How many Veterans have they helped?
- What type of disability have you been denied for?
- How often do they practice VA appeals? Is it their full time job?
Our team of attorneys understands the importance of helping Veterans with their claims and how desperately Veterans sometimes need help. At Berry Law Firm, our team has been assisting Veterans with their VA disability claims since the firm was founded in 1965 by Vietnam Veteran John Stevens Berry, Sr. In fact, our team currently features Veteran attorneys from all four branches of the military. We have appealed claims for nearly every disability granted by the VA, and we have helped thousands of Veterans with their disability claims. Our VA disability lawyers and staff spend their entire work week preparing appeals and fighting the VA for disability compensation on behalf of our clients. We understand that clients need serious representation from a VA certified attorney, so we make sure that our team is well versed in defending the rights of our Veterans when they return home.
What is the Difference between a VA Certified Attorney and a VA Accredited Attorney?
A common question we receive is, “What is the difference between a VA certified attorney and a VA accredited attorney?” A VA accredited attorney is an attorney who has been accredited by the VA to help Veterans in the VA claims process. Formally speaking, there is no such thing as a VA certified attorney, but it is used as a common synonym for VA accredited and many people will use the terms interchangeably. Before hiring an attorney or representative, you should make sure that they are actually VA accredited.
How an Attorney Can Help
VA accredited attorneys have been accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs to help Veterans appeal their claim decisions. Attorneys who are well versed in the legal side of Veterans appeals claims can point out legal or technical errors in VA decisions, help you gather relevant evidence to support a claim, and use medical, historical, and scientific research to enhance your claim. Most attorneys perform the work on a contingency basis so that they only collect a fee if they are successfully in helping you appeal an incorrect decision. On the other hand, some VSOs and claim agents are paid regardless of whether your claim is approved or not, and their success is measured by the amount of paperwork pushed, not necessarily by how successful they are. If you decide to use an attorney, realize that the process often takes multiple years, so you will want to make sure that the people you are working with will be by your side throughout the whole process.
VA Appeals Attorneys
Berry Law is committed to providing Veterans with top-notch legal service for appealing VA decisions. Our team consists of attorneys from all 4 branches of the military, and we are committed to assisting fellow Veterans when they return home from service. If you or somebody you know needs assistance appealing a VA decision, contact Berry Law’s team of VA accredited attorneys today at 888-883-2483 to schedule a free case evaluation.