It may seem like the worst kind of injustice to ask a veteran to pay an attorney for help winning his disability claim. After all, veterans have provided a service to the nation, and have a right to be treated respectfully by the country they have fought hard to protect.

But what many veterans may not know is that VA disability attorneys were first allowed to charge for their services not for the attorneys’ benefit, but in an effort to help veterans win their claims.

Why Are Disability Attorneys Allowed to Charge Veterans for Help Appealing Their Claims?

To understand the problem, the story goes back to before the Civil War:

  • 1863. Just before the end of the Civil War, the most a lawyer could legally charge a veteran for any service was $5.00. Two years later, that limit was raised to $10.00, where it remained for over 100 years.
  • 1988. Vietnam Veterans who were denied benefits lobby congress, citing problems in the VA appeal system. Lawyers supplied by the VA’s Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) were paid through the VA, creating a conflict of interest and making it impossible for veterans to appeal the decision. On November 18, 1988, Congress passed the Veterans Judicial Relief Act (VJRA), creating the modern-day U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). Not only could veterans now hire their own attorneys after their claims had been denied by the BVA, but these attorneys could only collect a maximum of 33 percent of the veteran’s benefits in fees.
  • 2007. In an effort to save veterans even more money, a law passed in June 2007 now allows veterans to hire attorneys after their claims have been denied at the first level, rather than wait for a second-level appeal denial from the BVA. In addition, attorneys may not charge veterans for legal help with VA disability claims until after their claim has been denied.

Although the VA system was created to care for former service members, there are still many flaws that can lead to delays and unfair denials. The attorneys at Cuddigan Law are proud to help veterans by looking over their claims, filing appeals on their behalf, and exploring other types of benefits to get them the maximum amount of payments they are qualified to receive. Call us today to find out more about our services, or learn how to file your claim in our free book, The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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