Veterans often find out the hard way that filing for VA benefits means fighting for benefits. Nearly every step of the process is a struggle—from gathering your medical records to submitting to numerous exams to getting a denial notice in the mail. You know you can’t fight for your benefits on your own, but is hiring an attorney worth the expense when there are free legal services available?
Common Questions About Attorneys and Legal Fees in VA Disability Claims
While hiring an attorney may cost more that receiving free legal help, it is also more likely to get your claim approved. Consider the following questions before you attempt your appeal:
- When should I hire an attorney? Veterans can seek help from a VA attorney at any point in the claims process, with the added benefit that fees cannot be charged for services until after the claim has been denied. In many cases, attorneys may only charge fees after the Veterans Regional office has issued a rating decision, as an attorney can help after the filing a Notice of Disagreement. The Notice of Disagreement is a written objection from the veteran to the BVA explaining why the decision should be reconsidered.
- How much do attorneys charge? While the cost to hire each VA disability attorney may vary, we limit our fees to no more than 20 percent of the veteran’s back payments. When you hire your attorney, the VA will receive a copy of the fee agreement.
- What will I pay for? You should not pay for any attorney fees for assistance given prior to your rating decision. However, you may be asked to reimburse the attorney for any upfront costs he has paid, such as rush mailing fees for medical records or the costs of an independent medical exam. Client expenses must be paid at the conclusion of your case whether you win your case. o
- Who can I hire? You may hire any attorney to give you guidance on your case, but only a VA-accredited attorney is permitted to represent you at the upper levels of court. For instance, to appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), your attorney must be admitted to practice before the court.
- When do I pay my attorney? In most cases, attorneys are paid on a contingency-fee basis. This means that any costs you owe are collected with the past-due disability benefits you are awarded. If you do not win your claim, you do not have to pay attorney fees, but are liable for any upfront costs the attorney paid on your behalf.
At Cuddigan Law, we know that many disabled veterans are struggling under the weight of their unresolved claims. That is why we do not charge any upfront fees when we take your case, and we only get paid for our work if we successfully resolve your case. We also check to see if there are other type of benefits you may be eligible for in order to maximize the amount of your award.
If you have been denied veteran’s disability benefits, you must act quickly. You have a limited time after receiving the denial notice to file for appeal—after this expires, your case will not be able to be reopened. Email us at [email protected] today to tell us more about your case, or download a free copy of our book, The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims.