The image to the right should be stamped on every single letter that the VA sends out.
When it comes to what other attorneys are experiencing in their clients’ VA Claims, I keep my ear pretty close to the ground.
Earlier this week, I received a copy of a letter that the Pension Management Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, sent to a Veteran’s surviving spouse seeking survivor benefits.
See if you can spot the legal error in the portion of the text I share below:
Found the problem yet?
This paragraph was included in a letter dated March 28, 2014.
The problem? The VA’s answer to the question “May I Be Represented” hasn’t been the law since BEFORE 2007! Seven years after a change in the law, and the VA STILL can’t get it right.
Here’s the truth: A Veteran or a Survivor can hire an attorney to help them in their VA Claim – at any time in the process, whatsoever. You can also get a second opinion from a lawyer anytime – even if you are currently represented.
Now, your lawyer can only get paid fees if they represent you after you have received a Ratings Decision from the VA Regional Office – or, in this case, a letter from the VA Pension Management Center in St. Paul, MN. An attorney can always recover reasonable expenses (experts, travel, postage, medical record costs, etc.) that you approve whether the attorney work pro-bono or for a feee
The law used to be that a Veteran or their survivor could not get paid for representing a Veteran until after the BVA made a final decision on the appeal. But that has not been the law for 7 years – since June 20, 2007.
Do you want some guidance on finding the best Veteran’s lawyer in your VA claim or appeal? Check out my eBook: “8 Things Veterans Need to Know Before Hiring an Attorney in their VA Claim”.
This is Why Veteran’s NEED the Veteran’s Law Blog in your VA Disability Claim.
Simply put, because the VA itself does not know the very laws that it administers, you need someone that can steer you in the right direction.
Particularly if you are a surviving spouse of a Veteran – the VA treats them the worst. (As evidenced by their letter misadvising the Veteran’s surviving spouse of the law).
My grandmother – the surviving spouse of a deceased WW2 Combat Veteran (he fought at the Battle of the Bulge) – was denied life-changing Survivor Benefits because the VA – and several national VSOs – did not know the law.
At the Veterans Law Blog, I strive to make sure that Veterans and their survivors have access not only to the current law in effect, but also to practical tips and pointers about how to navigate the VA Claims Process.
I’m a disabled Veteran myself – I have battled the VA in my own claim, and the claims and appeals of hundreds of Veterans. I’ve said before that I care about 2 things:
#1: Being the Best Husband and Father I can be.
#2: Changing the Way Veterans experience the VA Claims Process.
There the list ends. Don’t believe me? Ask my wife what is written on the sticky note, taped to the mirror where I brush my teeth every morning and evening.
While I recognize that there are some great people – that really care about Veterans – working at the VA, I also recognize that the Veteran is the one that holds the Power to Change their VA claim.
Where do you get started Taking Back the Power in your VA Claim?
I’ve spent years – since 2007 – learning this claims and appeals process, and synthesizing my knowledge into 8 Steps To Improving Your VA Claim.
Start with Step #1: Recognize that the VA, Congress and VSOs are all part of the problem, and see that YOU are the Solution.
Step #2 is “Get your VA C-File”, and Step #3 is “Learn the Law” of your claim. Here’s a great “Back to Basics” eBook Collection that will get you started on the path of Step #2 and #3 in Improving your VA Claim.
Oh – and help me to help you – tell me the One Thing about the law or process of the VA Claim or Appeal that you are struggling to understand in your VA Claim, and I will use your feedback to prepare more blog posts.
I really enjoyed the DANGER sign. How sweet it is to know that the country you served is being represented by incompetence at the top and at the bottom.
Thanks for the feedback. Someone once said…”the problem isn’t the problem, it’s how we think about the problem.” You are 100% right – there is incompetence galore in the VA. Vets need to be aware of that danger…too many Veterans (believe it or not) trust what the VA is telling them.
If we think about that problem differently, we realize that there are a LOT of people that are working to change that – most of the time, its not Congressmen or VSOs…its the Veterans who quietly work to create reform from the inside. It’s attorneys like those in NOVA that are working hard for change.
Anyway…trying to get you a message of hope there. After all, bad news is only ever HALF bad.