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Veterans Benefits Attorney

I’m a rarity among Veterans Benefits attorneys – not only am I active in social media, but I personally post and respond to Veterans questions in several Veterans social media groups.

Because I’m out in the groups where Veterans are talking about their VA claims, I get to hear and understand your concerns a lot more than other VA Benefits attorneys.

Every few weeks, I stumble across a thread that is critical of VA Disability attorneys.  Here are the scenarios I usually see:

* Someone had a bad experience with a VA Disability lawyer, and they are bad-mouthing that firm or attorney.

* Someone was turned down by a veterans disability lawyer for legal representation

* Someone has been working with a VA disability attorney for months and years and it doesn’t seem like their claim is getting anywhere.

That’s when the “Myths” start coming out.

Veterans who have had bad experiences with VA disability lawyers – and sometimes VA  moles in certain Facebook groups whose seem hell bent on bashing attorneys that help Veterans – start spreading the myths about VA benefits attorneys.

Over the past year, I have collected 6 of the biggest myths about VA Disability law firms  – and I’m going to attempt to dispel those myths in today’s post.

6 MYTHS about Veterans Benefits attorneys in VA Claims.

MYTH #1: You cannot hire a Veterans Benefits attorney until you get a BVA Decision.

This USED to be the law: before 2007.

In June 2007, Congress passed a law that allowed Veterans to hire a VA Benefits attorney after the VA first denies your claim.

The fact of the matter is that you hire a  VA Disability lawyer at ANY time in the VA Claims process.

Some VSOs and attorneys tell you that you can’t hire an attorney until you file a Notice of Disagreement.  This statement is patently FALSE:  here’s the  TRUTH.

MYTH #2: VA Disability attorneys won’t take your case unless there is a lot of Money.

This myth is just going to last forever, I fear.

It doesn’t help when a Judge on the Veterans Court perpetuates the myth with a very cynical poem in an opinion of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

But here’s the truth:  I know a lot of veterans disability lawyers. In fact, there are over 500 of us nationwide.

Every VA disability attorney that I know has specific criteria for the types of cases they like to work.

Last week, I talked to a VA Benefits attorney that really likes working back and neck injury cases.

I know another law firm that only takes cases where the Veteran has a mental health condition.

And I talked recently to a new VA disability lawyer that wants to focus only on TBI cases.

Now, it is true – VA Disability law firms have to make money to stay in business.

If that VA Disability law firm doesn’t stay in business, they cannot represent Veterans.

So some decisions by law firms do involve financial considerations: for example, my firm will not take a case where the projected costs of expert witnesses will exceed the past-due payable to the Veteran.

Why not?

We don’t want the Veteran to go “in the hole” because of our representation.

Bottom line: I don’t know a single VA Disability lawyer that represents Veterans to “get rich”.

In fact, many of us believe very strongly in securing due process and equal protection of the law for Veterans – even if it means that we don’t make a lot of money.

 

MYTH #3: Veterans Disability lawyers delay your cases to run up the fees.

When I hear this criticism of Veterans disability attorneys, I know that I’m talking to someone that doesn’t understand business.

We all suspect that the VA practices a “delay until they die” approach, right? So how is it a good business practice to drag out a case if the Veteran stands the possibility of dying before any benefits are paid?

VA Disability attorneys are in the business of getting cases decided for their clients – before their clients die.  If the Veteran dies while the claim or appeal is being processed, then the Veterans and the VA Benefits attorney do not get paid.

The surest way to run my veterans disability law firm into the ground is to “sit” on cases and wait for the VA to act in the hopes that I will get a bigger fee.

And, to be honest, my law firm is cut from a different cloth than other VA disability law firms.  I believe – strongly – in 2 things:

#1: Most Veterans have the ability to take back the power and improve their own VA claims and appeals, and don’t always need a VSO representative or a VA Disability lawyer.   Y’all just need a bit more education, knowledge, and understanding of how the VA Claims Process REALLY works.

#2: The lawyer has an ethical duty to educate the public about the law.  I do that by writing this Veterans Law Blog every weekday – since 2007.  I do this by putting my knowledge about, and experience in, the VA Claims process into books that help More Veterans get More Information – and More Power in their VA Claims.

I’ve written over a dozen books to teach Veterans how to improve their VA Claims.

Got a sleep apnea claim? I’ve written an ebook and put together a sleep apnea training program that can help you improve your sleep apnea claim. The Sleep Apnea field manual is available as a paperbook, here.

Need help with your TDIU claim or appeal?  I can teach you how to make your TDIU claim better and stronger.

My “How to File a VA Claim Training Package” has helped many Veterans prove and win their VA Claims – the right way, the first time.

You can also learn more in-depth info about the 5 paths to service connection, the VA Claims Process, and much more.

MYTH #4: VA benefits lawyers don’t know anything about VA Benefits.   

For the most part, Veterans Benefits attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced attorneys that know as much about VA Benefits as the most competent VSOs out there.

And, VA Disability lawyers have an ethical duty to become competent in the area of law in which they practice.

Unfortunately, there is a morsel  of truth in this myth: every year, I run into an attorney or two that thinks they can jump into the representation of Veterans without studying and becoming knowledgeable about the basic law governing VA Benefits Claims.

Most of these folks are gone from the practice within 6 months. Programs like this one – where the VA perpetuates its paternalistic approach to Veterans and encourages untrained “pro-bono” attorneys to “help” Veterans are the source of most of these “bad apples”.

When you look for a VA Benefits attorney, I strongly recommend that you look for several indicators that the attorney is competent to represent Veterans.

One of those indicators is that the attorney should be a member of the National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA).  NOVA is the “gold standard” for the training and education of VA Disability attorneys.

NOVA has 2 annual seminars (lasting 2-3 days each), in which hundreds of attorneys (many Veterans themselves) keep up to date on changes in the law.

Throughout the year, NOVA offers training courses and webinars meant to help their members become more knowledgeable about the nuances of VA Disability law.

When you want to hire an attorney, use my free eBook to learn how to choose the best attorney for you and your claim. (or get the paperback version here).

MYTH #5: Nobody helps you once you hire a VA Benefits attorney.

I heard this one on Facebook the other day:  don’t hire a Veterans Benefits attorneys – the VA will “stone-wall” you and you will get nowhere.

This is patently false – and here is a story to show you how untrue it is.

MYTH #6. My friend’s VA Disability attorney is the Best.

I get this email all the time – a Veteran says something like this: “My friend says that your firm is the best at representing Veterans – I want you to help in my case.

Listen – don’t choose your VA Disability lawyer based on the one that worked best for your friend.

* Your friend may have the perfect wife or husband. Doesn’t make him or her the right spouse for you.

* Your friend may have the perfect car.  Doesn’t mean that its going to fit your needs.

* Your friend may have the perfect job. Doesn’t mean that its going to be the best job for you.

I want you to choose the veterans disability lawyer that is best for YOUR claim: choose one with the knowledge, experience, and skill to be able to effectively advocate for YOU.

Choose the VA Benefits attorney that YOU get along with and want to work with.

I have written a FREE guidebook that will answer all of the above questions, and will teach you how to select the VA Disability Attorney that is best for your claim.
Here’s what you can learn in this FREE field manual (the ebook is free – get the paperback version, here):

* What professional credentials to consider in a Veterans Benefits attorney.

* Why a VA Disability attorney’s success rate is the LEAST important question a Veteran should ask.

* How a veterans disability lawyer’s case volume and experience may affect you.

* How to determine whether the VA Disability lawyer is a good fit for you.

* What a law firm’s  Internet presence might say about the veterans disability lawyer.

You’ll also learn 4 very important tips to help you select a VA Disability Attorney ….and I’ll give you a 30-question checklist of things to ask when you are interviewing VA disability lawyers for your claim.

Bottom line: if you need help in your VA claim, and decide to hire a VA benefits law firm, choose the attorney or lawyer that is right for YOU and YOUR VA Claim.

7 Comments

  1. Daniel Lawrence

    Free guidebook hiring attorney,fileing a claim soon.

    Reply
  2. Dave Spencer

    Thank you for all you do. Every now and then I get a chance to read posts from your firm, and you do seem to be very knowledgeable and committed to your work.

    I am an independent veterans advocate in Iowa; I help people figure out what they need and where to go and with whom they need to talk. I have various contacts in the VARO and the Iowa Veterans Commission, as well as VVA and DAV. I have stood up to issues in the Des Moines VA and stood up for veterans in particular situations. I can say I have been probably 80% effective in getting people where they need to go to be successful in their purpose. There are many veterans who simply do not know how to navigate the VA system, and I have learned through my own experience and intentionally to help others, both VA processes and what 38 CFR says.

    I have been helping a friend of mine in Arizona, who now has a competent law firm in his corner. He has been fighting the system for almost 15 years and they have seemingly just decided to simply say “no” just because they can, because he has 99% of a fully developed claim but they continue to deny. We have proven they lied to him numerous times about the availability of records (because we found them, in several cases right where they were supposed to be if they had done their “duty to assist”, which we all know is a joke…), etc. I have often wondered what the definition must really be for “preponderance of the evidence” and “benefit of the doubt”. I believe he is on the cusp of success, finally, because his attorney is bringing the fight to them and it looks very promising right now.

    I appreciate very much what benefits lawyers do, and again, thank you very much for your service to veterans in need!

    Reply
    • Chris Attig

      Dave, thanks for those comments and thoughts. I would love to learn more about what you do up there in Iowa – please shoot me an email or message me on Google+ and we can chat. Are you an accredited agent?

      Chris

      Reply
  3. how are appeals tracked

    There’s at least 2 ways to check the VA claims inventory, But once the VA plays the numbers game and completes the claim.. how are appeals tracked. I called the local VA/waco and was told that an appeal could Take 365 business days and not calender days …. that’s insane.

    Reply
    • Chris Attig

      Agreed, Larondo!

      Each Regional Office has its own “script” for what they tell Veterans as to timelines for an appeal.

      Given what we have seen the VA do under threat of a “Writ of Mandamus”, there is NO reason that they should take this long to handle appeals…particularly since most appeals by pro-se Veterans result in the issuance of a Statement of the Case, and not a favorable adjudication.

      Chris

      Reply
  4. Garrett Nemec

    Send me the information on obtaining my C file.
    I lost track of the location of the link you refered to.
    Thank you for the valuble information.
    I got your name from Attorney Dora Ann Gostecnik.

    Reply

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