Many lawyers practice in the area of Social Security disability law, however there are fewer veterans disability lawyer, which is more specialized. There are a couple of things to do in figuring out whether to hire a VA disability attorney.
1. Is the disability attorney VA accredited? For this you can search here.
To be honest this is a fairly low bar but there are some attorneys that attempt to practice without being accredited. The standards for becoming VA accredited veterans disability lawyer are fairly minimal, but are still higher than practicing in social security disability law where there is no minimal bar, and any lawyer can practice. Still the GAO looked whether the standards are sufficient in a recent report.
2. How much experience does the Veterans Disability Lawyer have including in the CAVC–Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
3. Talk to the disability attorney and ensure they will attempt to get the highest possible rating and the earliest possible effective date?
Different types of representatives
There are various types of representatives for VA disability claims of which veterans disability lawyer are in the minority since they only represent 2% of Veterans according to the GAO report. The majority are represented by non lawyer veteran service organizations. There are also certified claims agents. The disability lawyers must complete 3 hours of CLE initially, three more CLEs within three years of accreditation, and every 2 years thereafter. Veteran service organizations recertify the representatives every five years. The GAO report notes that the VA has been lax in the monitoring requirements both for VSOs and disability attorneys. Whether the attorneys have sufficient knowledge of the complex area of veterans law is in question. In terms of our competence we annually attend conferences at the National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA) that hold 2-3 day seminars with the leading legal disability lawyer experts in Veterans law. This year I attended both the spring and fall NOVA conferences. I am also a sustaining member of NOVA and regularly network with other veteran disability lawyers there. Your Veteran disability lawyer should help you get the earliest effective date, the highest rating, and should be licensed in the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Fees for Veteran Disability Lawyer
There is no initial cost for hiring a disability attorney and in fact there cannot even be a contingent fee for the initial filing of a VA disability application. Once the application has been denied the disability attorney can charge a reasonable contingent fee which is usually 20% of a past due benefit. Veteran Service groups do not charge any fees. Disability attorneys can charge flat fees for cases involving discharge upgrades.