Your attorney was able to find the medical records you needed to finally prove your disability, and he says you have a good chance of winning your VA disability appeal. All you need to do now is sign the fee agreement to have him represent you in front of the appeals board. While your attorney has been extremely helpful, the thought of signing over any portion of your benefits makes you nervous. How can you be sure the terms your attorney has included in your fee agreement are fair?
Information Your Attorney Must Include in Your VA Disability Fee Agreement
You and your attorney should discuss the terms of your fee agreement before signing, and there should be no difference between what you agreed upon and what’s in the document. In order to be valid, a fee agreement must include the following information:
- Identifying information. Fee agreements should include the veteran’s name, the name of the claimant (if someone other than the veteran, such as a veteran’s child or spouse, is claiming benefits) and the VA file number.
- Payment information. The agreement should provide clear terms and method of how the amount is to be paid to the attorney for his services. The terms should specify the amount to be paid using an hourly rate or a percentage of the claimant’s back benefits. If the VA is expected to pay the attorney directly using past due benefits, this should be specifically stated in the fee agreement.
- Disinterested third-party agreements. If you are using a disinterested third-party payer, you must include the name of the payer, the relationship between the payer and the veteran, and a guarantee that the payer will not be reimbursed for any amount he has paid on behalf of the claimant.
Do I Have any Protection Against Unfair Fee Agreements?
After you have signed your fee agreement, your attorney must file the document with the VA office to ensure it is within the parameters of federal VA law. The VA is responsible for reviewing fee agreements and alerting veterans if they are being charged too high a percentage for legal services.
The VA disability attorneys at Cuddigan Law always explain the fees up front, and advance all court costs until after your case has been won. Call us today to get started, or learn more about filing for benefits in our free book, The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims.