You need to hire a qualified veterans disability lawyer if you want a discharge upgrade or to appeal for denial of compensation. If you choose to apply for veterans disability through Veterans Affair department, the process could take a very long time to complete, which can be frustrating. However, hiring an attorney to guide you through this maze can save you a lot of stress and trouble.
Although a lawyer cannot expedite the VA claim process, having him/her by your side could increase the benefits to which you are entitled. You need the representation of a lawyer because with the assistance of one, you can navigate the complex laws and regulations, which are often difficult to comprehend and change quickly.
When you need a lawyer
You will require the help of a lawyer when you first apply for VA benefits. If you do not hire one immediately, you can rely on an agent from the veterans service organization to help you. However, if you apply for disability benefits and get a denial letter, you need to consult a lawyer.
Doing so will allow you to get a discharge upgrade to be eligible for VA benefits or file for an appeal. You should conduct an interview once you have a candidate.
What to ask the attorney
It is necessary to hire an attorney who has experience in handling VA cases and can represent your interests fully. Here are some questions that you should ask a prospective attorney:
- How long have you been practicing veterans law?
- Can you practice before the CAVC?
- Are you a VA-accredited lawyer?
- Will you help me get an early date for my benefits?
- When was the last time you attended veterans law training?
- Will you help me to get the best benefits for my disability?
How to find a veterans disability lawyer
Although many attorneys specialize in disabilities, you should get one who specifically deals with veterans disabilities. Several resources can help you in this process. If you do not know any good military lawyers for veterans, try the following:
Use Nolo lawyer directory – you can use this directory to search for disability lawyers. You should check the list for lawyers who are certified by VA because some of them only handle social security disability cases.
NOVA (National Organization of Veterans Advocates website) – this is an online directory of lawyers who are VA-accredited and others who are admitted to practice before the U.S Court of Veterans Appeals. These lawyers are required to take part in annual veterans benefits trainings. Moreover, they are not listed in online directories until they have been NOVA members for at least a year.
Attorneys for military sexual trauma – if a veteran has suffered from military sexual trauma, he or she needs a lawyer that is sensitive to the issues and is familiar with obstacles faced by survivors in the VA benefits system.
Appeal to the U.S CAVC (Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims) – if you are appealing to the CAVC, you need to look for a lawyer who is admitted to do law before this court. Most NOVA lawyers can practice before the CAVC. You can also check the list of court practitioners if you are looking for an appellate lawyer.
How much does hiring a disability lawyer cost?
The amount of money that a disability lawyer charges depends on the kind of help you need: acquiring a discharge upgrade or appealing a denial. No matter what your case is about, you need to find out about the lawyer’s fees before you hire him or her.