As a Veterans Disability Attorney and a service connected disabled Veteran, I would like to help More Veterans get More Information about the VA Claims Process.
So I added a new feature to the Veterans Law Blog – a Veterans Disability Attorney Answers Your Questions.
The feature is getting more and more popular, but keep this in mind: the Q&A with Veterans Disability Attorney on the Veterans Law Blog is NOT legal advice.
Bottom line: “Veterans Disability Attorney Answers Your Questions” Feature is not meant to be legal advice. Don’t rely on it as advice.
I’m answering your questions very generally to get the most information to the most people – but also because I do not give legal advice on the Veterans Law Blog.
Nothing – and certainly not a blog – is a substitute for good legal advice from an accredited Veterans Disability Attorney.
NEW FEATURE: Veterans Disability Attorney Answers Your Questions.
I can’t see a reason why Veterans Advocates should not teach Veterans how to improve their own VA Claims.
So, in today’s post, I’m going to answer a few questions that have come in through MailCall lately.
Just remember – nothing in this post is intended to be specific legal advice. If you need the rest of the disclaimers and legalese, you can read it all here.
Want to submit your question to Mail Call so that Veterans Disability Attorney Answers Your Questions? Visit this link and fill in the form.
Veteran Randy H. asks: “One problem I see is you have several service officers in several groups to choose from. The Veteran does not know which group provides the best representation for VA claims. How good are some of these folks, really?”
Answer: That’s a good question, Randy – I get asked ALL the time. Bottom line up front: It’s a crapshoot.
On one hand, I know several VSOs that I would trust with my claim – there are some that are diligent, know their stuff, and look out for the Veteran or Survivor’s best interest.
This is, in my experience, a very small minority. The “lion’s share” of VSO representatives do a lot of damage in a lot of claims. Here are some examples we have talked about on this blog:
In fact, right before editing this post, I received an email from a Vietnam Veteran surviving spouse whose VSO abandoned her husband 10 years ago, after giving them some REALLY bad advice.
Are there attorneys like this? Yes, regrettably. There are a couple firms that routinely come up in our consultation database as ignoring Veterans for years.
And when I get wind of an attorney that is damaging our profession by doing poor work for Veterans, I am not afraid to pick up the phone and “encourage” them to practice another area of law.
Here’s the thing, though.
If an attorney commits malpractice, you can report them to their Bar association and, in some cases, sue them. Good luck reporting a VSO for malpractice…no less suing one.
So how do you find out if a VSO is “worth their salt”? Ask around. These folks get reputations really quick – good ones or bad ones. And if you ask 10 Veterans about a particular VSO and nobody has heard of them, run away. Fast.
How do you figure out if an attorney is “worth their salt”? Ask questions. Take a look at my free guidebook: “8 Things a Veteran Should Know Before Hiring an Attorney”. Use the 25+ question checklist and talk to at least 3 attorneys so you have a choice of which you think is best for YOU.
Veteran Tara L. asks: “Regarding the DRO review process, why doesn’t your Veterans Law Blog explain that the DRO review is available to both the initial rating decisions (SOC) and subsequent decisions where the RO has issued an SSOC? ”
Answer: You can ask for a DRO Review at any time after filing your Notice of Disagreement (NOD).
As a matter of strategy, though, we ask for the DRO Conference with the Notice of Disagreement.
Why? A couple reasons.
First, because I believe that if the DRO is going to grant the claim, it will be after the NOD. Once the DRO issues a Statement of the Case (SOC), you are best filing your VA Form 9 Appeal and going to the BVA. I’ve never – in 7 years – seen a DRO reverse their decision once a SOC or SSOC was issued.
Second, because the DRO review takes time but, in my experience, actually SHORTENS the time that it takes to get a SOC.
For example, I request a DRO Conference with almost every NOD we file. They typically get scheduled within 6-9 months, but sometimes longer.
When at the DRO, if I am ready to go to the BVA, I ask the DRO to either grant the relief we are seeking or issue the SOC within 30 days, so we can immediately file the VA Form 9 and get the appeal to the BVA sooner – in some cases, 1-2 years sooner.
So yes, Tara, as a matter of reality, you can ask for a DRO anytime after filing your Notice of Disagreement. But my current thinking is to get it out of the way early.
No need to sit around in the Hamster Wheel waiting on a DRO when you could be spending your time preparing for a BVA Hearing by filing your VA Form 9 in response to the SOC.
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