Q: Do I need a lawyer for my veterans benefits case?
You should be aware that you don’t always need a lawyer in a VA case. If you are filing for the first time for benefits, you may be able to handle the case on your own or with the help of a Veterans Service Representative (VSO). These representatives offer free legal services to veterans—you do not have to be a member of their organization. The best way to determine if your case should be handled by a lawyer or a VSO, is to ask. You can contact my office and talk with me about your case. I will be able to explain how to best approach it and whether or not you need an attorney’s help. VA Watchdog, run by a non-lawyer, has developed a detailed checklist of considerations for hiring an attorney, find there article here.
Changes to Rules for Veterans Hiring Lawyers
In the past, veterans were not allowed to involve a lawyer with the appeals of the decisions made by the VA Regional Offices. They were only allowed to hire lawyers when cases went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Fortunately, things changed in 2007. As of June 2007, veterans are permitted by law to enlist legal help with appeals at the VA Regional Office level.
Does Hiring a Lawyer make my case go faster
With the enormous VA backlog, endless mistakes in decisions, and a massive amount of denials, it is very apparent that the VA system aggravates veterans and their families. Many veterans abandon their cases out of frustration, and it is widely believed that the VA might even count on such action. That means fewer cases are appealed and the VA does not have to grant benefits. Don’t fall into this trap. Consider hiring a lawyer as soon as you get an unfavorable decision from the VA. A lawyer will ensure that all of the right forms have been completed, deadlines have been met and the evidence provided is strong. Attorneys who are experienced in VA benefits cases know how to find supporting evidence when there appears to be none. Not only should you involve a lawyer when your claim is denied, you should hire one who is experienced and knowledgeable in the VA claims process. Not every attorney knows what it takes to get a decision overturned. Therefore, you need to make sure the lawyer you hire has the relevant knowledge and has actually represented veterans in cases like yours before. A lawyer can't advance your case ahead of those without attorneys, but he or she can ensure that your case is properly developed so that the it is decided right the first time.