Every day, I get dozens of emails that fit a common pattern. The email starts with 2 or 3 sentences about the veteran’s claim, and then closed at the end: “Please call me. So-and-so told me you were the best and I want you working on my claims and appeals.”
While I appreciate the compliments, I shudder a little at emails like this. For 2 reasons.
First, I get a lot of emails like this. And while I diligently represent my clients – I often tell them we will pursue their claim until we have no more appeals or until we win – I am most assuredly not the best.
There are a LOT of damn good VA Disability attorneys out there. (Most, if not all, of the best attorneys out there are members of the National Organization of Veterans Advocates)
Second, I don’t want Veterans to choose their attorney based on who their friend thought was the best. I want Veterans to choose the VA Disability attorney who is BEST for their case.
In some situations, that may be my law firm, Attig | Curran | Steel, PLLC.
But it may also be any one of the dozens of other attorneys who have made the representation of veterans their professional life’s work.
There are hundreds of attorneys that are out there representing veterans, and I’m here to tell you that who is best for your friend’s case may not be the best for your case.
Do you Need a VA Disability Attorney?
First, you have to answer the question: do you NEED an attorney?
Some of you might do better with a VSO or an accredited agent.
Some of you have the ability to improve your claim on your own, and fix the problems that are in your claim without need of a professional to help. Maybe you’re the “do-it-yourself” type, and hiring an attorney will require you to cede control over your claim.
If this last option sounds like you, here are 5 ways that you can dive in and learn more about VA Claims than most other Veterans:
#1: Subscribe to the Veterans Law Blog® and use the resources that appear on this blog – there are thousands of posts, chock full of information about VA claims and appeals for those of you that are the “do-it-yourself” type. Get a copy of your C-File, and see if you can figure out if the reasons that the VA is screwing up your VA claim.
#2: Need help learning the VA Claims process? Take a look at the AMA claims process course that is available free to subscribers of the Veterans Law Blog®.
#5: Have a Sleep Apnea claim? The Veterans Law Blog® is the only place you can get a comprehensive 165 page guide to improving your VA Sleep Apnea claim – it’s available as a free eBook download to subscribers of the Veterans Law Blog®. You can buy a paper copy from Amazon if you prefer the kind of book you can hold in your hand.
How do you Find the Best one for your Claim?
The more veterans I talk to about their experiences with representation, the more I realize how important it is to choose the correct representative for your VA Claim.
I see it all the time – a veteran gets in over their head in their VA Benefits claim, and then starts scrambling to find an attorney.
They choose the attorney someone else recommended.
They choose the first attorney that shows up in the search results.
They choose the unaccredited claims poacher who pretends to be better than an attorney, or cheaper than an attorney, but turns out to be neither.
Scam artists like Vet comp and pen, VA claim insiders, Vet guardians, and more – are unaccredited and charge you out of your future VA benefits, a practice which is against the law. And they do little more than provide a medical opinion from a doctor the VA recognizes as a hired gun. If I had a nickel for every veterans claim these folks screwed up, I would have enough nickels to retire.
And often, veterans make a choice of representative that may not be ideal for their claim. (BTW…did you know that you don’t have to live forever with a bad choice – you can get a second opinion about your VA claim from another VA accredited attorney).
The VA attorney you choose may not know the ins-and-outs of the procedures for appeals.
You may need an attorney at the Veterans Court, which is a very different type of attorney than one who works at the VA Regional Office or BVA.
The VA disability attorney you hire may not know how to prove up a claim with your type of injury.
Many VA disability attorneys don’t know how to manage their dockets and may have too much work to move at the pace you want to move.
Factors to Consider in Choosing an accredited VA disability attorney:
Here are just a few of the things I think are important to consider before hiring a VA Disability Attorney:
* What professional credentials to consider.
* Why an attorney’s success rate is the LEAST important question a veteran should ask.
* How an attorney’s case volume and experience may affect you.
* How to determine whether the attorney and firm is a good fit for you.
* What a law firm’s Internet presence might say about the firm
This isn’t going to be an eBook you save, read once, and forget about.
This is something that you can come back to again and again as you try to choose the best VA Disability Attorney for your claim.
Let me leave you with this thought about choosing an attorney for your VA claim.
Veterans get out of the VA Claims process what they put into it.
If you throw a few forms at the VA, and hope that you will get favorable results, you will probably get denied.
If you throw “everything and the kitchen sink” at the VA, you will overwhelm and confuse a bureaucracy that is not set up to study and analyze claims to find the right and best way to help Veterans.
Same things go for an attorney.
If you pick the first one that comes along – or the one that your buddy liked – you stand a good chance of choosing an attorney that is not right for you.
Take your time, research several attorneys; use my free guidebook to help you make a smart decision about what advocate is best for your claim.
If you do, I am confident that you will have a better experience with an attorney, and who knows, you might just find that they change the way you experience the VA claims process, whether it is the new “modernized” process, or the old Legacy process.